On Monday Pace-O-Matic in Pennsylvania announced it had won a court motion forcing Monroe County to return its gaming machines and other seized assets including cash since the cabinets that look like slots were seized illegally in raids conducted by the county district attorney’s office in 2021.
The ruling was issued by Monroe County Common Pleas Judge Jennifer Harlacher Sibum on February 8, 2023.
The ruling states that the machines are games of skill rather than games of chance. Additionally, the court admonished the DA’s office as the judge found “the Commonwealth improperly withheld and misrepresented material evidence in order to get the search warrant” used to seize the machines.
Skill Games Seized with Fudged Warrant
In addition to the games being skill games, the de facto illegal search and seizure was cited by the court as another reason the seized property could not be used as evidence.
“This ruling reaffirms our status as legal games of skill,” said Pace-O-Matic spokesman Mike Barley. “This is another tremendous victory for Pennsylvania Skill games, powered by Pace-O-Matic, and our Pennsylvania small business and fraternal partners.”
In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the machines are branded as “Pennsylvania Skill”. Pace-O-Matic skill gaming machines are operated in six states, including Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wyoming. The firm’s headquarters is in Duluth, Georgia.
In Kentucky, where thousands of the cabinets are said to be deployed, they are branded as Burning Barrel and can be found in bars, restaurants, truck stops, convenience stores, and veterans halls.
One element that makes them games of skill is that, unlike slots, the “payline” must be recognized and claimed by the player. The games come in a variety of presentations such as a tic-tac-toe grid with various shapes and characters appearing on the screen. When three matching icons are aligned in a row, the player must tap that line to “catch” the win.
In a press release announcing the ruling, Pace-O-Matic informed readers that the games are manufactured in PA and over 90% of the profits stay in-state. The PA-branded products are made by Miele Manufacturing in Williamsport. POM contends that Miele Manufacturing has created about 200 direct jobs. Much of the material used to create the games comes from Pennsylvania companies.
The statement added inter alia:
“Pennsylvania Skill has pumped new life into the commonwealth’s small businesses, fraternal and social clubs, and veterans organizations by providing them with an entertainment product that the public enjoys. Meanwhile, research data proves skill games do not impact the revenue of casinos and the lottery, both of which are achieving record profits year after year.
This isn’t the first time the company has dealt with law enforcement officers confiscating its machines along with the money in them. Last year, wrongfully seized skill games were returned after a settlement was negotiated by the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General and the Clearfield County District Attorney’s office to return gaming cabinets, cash, and associated equipment.
A County Court of Common Pleas ruled in 2014 that Pace-O-Matic’s Pennsylvania Skill games are legal as “winning” predominantly occurs as a result of skill, not just blind luck. After the Clearfield County settlement, another PA county also returned wrongfully seized property.
The company stated that it employs a team of former state police officers to ensure compliance with all laws and contract terms with outlets. The contracts dictate where the machines are to be placed on the premises as well as the number of machines that can be deployed. Protections are also in place to prevent underage play on the machines.
Source: Pennsylvania Skill, powered by Pace-O-Matic, ruled legal game of skill once again by a Pennsylvania Court, Global NewsWire, February 13, 2023