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Pennsylvania State Police seized 71 'illegal' gambling machines, including 'skill games'

Posted 2/28/20

Pennsylvania State Police seized 71 “illegal” gambling machines from Jan. 22 through Feb. 25, including a video gambling device seized from one Dauphin County location, Uncle Jim’s …

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Pennsylvania State Police seized 71 'illegal' gambling machines, including 'skill games'

Posted

Pennsylvania State Police seized 71 “illegal” gambling machines from Jan. 22 through Feb. 25, including a video gambling device seized from one Dauphin County location, Uncle Jim’s Tavern in Williamstown, State Police announced this morning.

The seizures include gambling devices marketed as “skill machines,” State Police said in the release.

The seizures took place throughout the state, with 16 machines seized from licensed liquor establishments in the Philadelphia area and 13 from the Pittsburgh area.

Devices were also seized from licensed establishments in the Allentown, Altoona, Erie, Punxsutawney, Wilkes-Barre and Williamsport areas, according to the release.

“Illegal, unregulated gambling is a serious — and growing — problem facing the commonwealth, with video gambling devices spreading beyond licensed liquor establishments into convenience stores, malls and restaurants,” said Capt. Jeffrey Rineer, acting director of the State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement. “So far in 2020, gambling machine seizures have been reported from every BLCE office, in counties from Erie to Philadelphia.”

The machines seized were manufactured by several different companies, according to the release. More investigations are underway and more seizures are expected, State Police said.

The skill games issue surfaced in Middletown in January, when representatives of several nonprofit organizations in the borough, including the Rescue Firemans Home Association, American Legion Post 594 and Middletown Moose; showed up at a borough council meeting to oppose an ordinance that had been proposed to ban the games in the town.

The representatives all spoke of the increased amount of revenue their organizations now receive thanks to having skill games.

The revenue has also enhanced the ability of these groups to contribute to community-worthy causes, such as the Middletown Fire Department in the case of the home association, according to what these representatives told council.

The proposal to ban the games that had been submitted to council came through an attorney with the borough’s solicitor firm, Eckert Seamans. The attorney, Mark Stewart, submitted the proposed ordinance in his capacity representing Parx Casino which is based in Bethlehem.

Council dropped the proposal in the face of the opposition from the nonprofit groups, and it has not resurfaced publicly since.

As State Police continue seizing what police in the release refer to as “skill machines,” a case is continuing in Commonwealth Court in which one of the industry’s leading manufacturers, Pace-O-Matic, is seeking a statewide declaration that its machines are legal under state law, according to an article in PennLive.

Pace-O-Matic through the state court is also seeking an order that would stop the periodic seizure of its machines by State Police and other enforcement agencies, according to PennLive.