On the 4th of December, Pace-O-Matic (POM) of Pennsylvania filed an amended complaint in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania outlining the coordinated corruption between state and local government agencies on behalf of actors in the private casino industry, who identified themselves as “Team Casino.”
POM of PA’s complaint asks the court to order the Bureau of Liquor Control & Enforcement (BLCE) and the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) from targeting POM’s Pennsylvania Skill games by publicly and privately declaring them illegal.
“Over the course of nearly seven years, at the behest and with financial support provided by the private casino industry, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB), the Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement (BLCE), and the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office have engaged in a coordinated campaign to attack and undermine the standing of POM’s legal Pennsylvania Skill games,” said Chief Public Affairs Officer, Mike Barley. “With the urging and coaching of actors representing the private casino industry, the state government ignored and/or purposefully misrepresented the law, court decisions, and basic elements of how our skill games operate in a coordinated, yet desperate, attempt to reputationally harm POM’s ability to operate a legal product in Pennsylvania.
“While the PGCB was created to oversee the private casino industry, their actions show they are wholly owned subsidiary of the industry they are intended to oversee. The BLCE is meant to interpret the law as written and respect court opinions, yet time and time again they took their orders from the private casino industry and ran a targeted campaign to harm the Pennsylvania small businesses and fraternal clubs who operate our skill games and rely on the supplemental revenue these games generate, as well as intimidate players from using our legal products. These actors were part of a national effort, led by the private casino industry in Pennsylvania and across the nation, to attack the legal skill game industry. Their behavior was appalling and does deep reputational damage as well as harms public confidence in the process.”
Yesterday, in another matter related to the legality of POM’s Pennsylvania Skill games, the Commonwealth Court unanimously ruled that POM’s skill games are legal games of skill. In the case, originally brought forth in Dauphin County, the Commonwealth Court ruled that the POM game is a game of predominant skill, not a game of chance, and that the “POM machines are not slot machines [and] the POM machines are not illegal” as noted in the ruling.
The newly amended complaint names the Bureau of Liquor Control & Enforcement (BLCE), Scott Miller, James Jones, Scott Berdine, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB), the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office, Monroe County District Attorney E. David Christine, Monroe County Assistant District Attorney Andrew Throckmorton, Monroe County Assistant District Attorney Michael Mancuso, Thomas J. McMahon from the Criminal Investigations Division, Chief County Detective Eric Kerchner with the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office, PGCB Senior Counsel Denise Miller-Tshudy, Deputy Chief Counsel Christopher Herrington with the Pennsylvania State Police, and former BLCE Supervisor Todd Merlina.
There is a long history of corruption by these actors that the courts have noted in their opinions over the past year.
In yesterday’s unanimous Commonwealth Court opinion, the court notes “the Commonwealth was aware of adverse legal authority [referring to the Pinnacle case in which the POM game was determined a game of skill], it was required to cite and distinguish it.” Yet the Commonwealth omitted it. The court goes on to state that they “caution the Commonwealth that the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct require candor toward the tribunal and, specifically, the disclosure of directly adverse authority.”
In March, Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas Judge, Andrew H. Dowling, castigated the Commonwealth and the BLCE for their biased conduct, writing, “All three of the Commonwealth witnesses opined that the games were predominantly games of chance. However, we do not find these opinions to be persuasive for a number of reasons. Initially, it is this Court’s belief that the Commonwealth’s investigation shows case bias. The Commonwealth is seeking to make all machines like the POM machines into illegal gambling devices, and their whole approach and intent is to shut down games regardless of the actual gameplay. The fact that Officer Wentsler never played the Follow Me feature while undercover is indicative of this. Thus, the Commonwealth as a whole is biased against the games, and their approach lacks case credibility.”
This is the second court in as many months to rule the games were legal games of skill and allege misconduct in the investigation and prosecution of legal skill games.
In February, Monroe County Common Pleas Judge Jennifer Harlacher Sibum wrote, “The court finds that the Commonwealth improperly withheld and misrepresented material evidence relative to the issuance of the search warrant in this matter, and that such conduct warrants the suppression of the seized property.”
Pace-O-Matic Wins Landmark Texas Court Case: A Victory for Small Business Owners and Community Organizations
Pace-O-Matic, the industry leader in skill-based games, today announced a significant legal victory in Texas, affirming the legality of its skill-based games. This ruling, issued Tuesday evening by State District Judge Laurine Blake, emphasized that such games are not considered gambling under Texas law. The ruling represents a triumph for small business owners, bar owners, and fraternal organizations who rely on these games to attract customers and support their businesses.
Michael Barley, Chief Public Affairs Officer at Pace-O-Matic, stated, “This ruling is a monumental victory for the small businesses and community organizations that have been able to thrive thanks to skill-based gaming. Our commitment to providing legal, enjoyable, and skill-based gaming options has once again been validated by the courts.”
This legal win underscores Pace-O-Matic’s dedication to fostering a responsible gaming environment while supporting local economies and community groups.
For more information visit Pace-O-Matic
AGA to Host State of the Industry Presentation, Release Report on Record-Breaking 2023 Commercial Gaming Revenue
The American Gaming Association (AGA) will hold its annual State of the Industry presentation with AGA President and CEO Bill Miller today, February 20 at 11:30 AM ET/8:30 AM PT.
During the presentation, the AGA will release full-year 2023 commercial gaming revenue numbers, discuss gaming’s third consecutive record-setting revenue year, provide analysis on the current gaming landscape, and preview AGA priorities for 2024.
Media are invited to a press call immediately following the presentation for Q&A.
What: AGA State of the Industry: Gaming’s Look Ahead & 2023 Commercial Gaming Revenue Tracker Release
Who: AGA President and CEO Bill Miller and Vice President, Research David Forman
When: Today, February 20, 2024 at 11:30 AM ET/8:30 AM PT
Where: WEBINAR REGISTRATION | PRESS CALL REGISTRATION
For questions about this event or AGA’s Commercial Gaming Revenue Tracker, contact [email protected].
AGA’s Commercial Gaming Revenue Tracker provides state-by-state and cumulative insight into the U.S. commercial gaming industry’s financial performance based on state revenue reports. This issue highlights full-year 2023 figures and Q4 2023 results. Tribal gaming revenue is released annually by the National Indian Gaming Commission.
35 states and the District of Columbia featured operational commercial gaming markets in 2023, including casino gaming, sports betting and iGaming.
AGA’s State of Play Map charts gaming’s economic impact, industry regulations and casino locations on a state-by-state basis for both the commercial and tribal gaming sectors.
2023 Commercial Gaming Revenue Reaches $66.5B, Marking Third-Straight Year of Record Revenue
Industry Contributes All-Time High $14.4B in State and Local Gaming Taxes.
U.S. commercial gaming revenue reached an annual record of $66.5 billion in 2023, according to the American Gaming Association’s (AGA) Commercial Gaming Revenue Tracker. The total surpasses 2022’s previous high of $60.5 billion by 10 percent, marking the industry’s third-straight record revenue year.
The year was punctuated by all-time high quarterly revenue of $17.4 billion in Q4 2023, anchored by $6.2 billion in revenue in December, the highest grossing month in industry history.
“From the traditional casino experience to online options, American adults’ demand for gaming is at an all-time high,” said AGA President and CEO Bill Miller. “Sustaining our momentum will take unified industry efforts around combating pernicious illegal operators and growing responsible gambling efforts in tandem with the growth of the legal market—both of which the AGA is committed to lead on throughout 2024.”
The commercial gaming industry continues to evolve, with online gaming making up nearly one-quarter (24.7%) of nationwide commercial gaming revenue in 2023, a new annual high. Looking at each sector:
Traditional Gaming: Brick-and-mortar casino slots and table games grossed a record $49.4 billion in 2023, up 3.3 percent over 2022. On a state level, 19 out of 27 traditional gaming markets saw record annual revenue.
Sports Betting: In 2023, sports betting achieved new records for handle ($119.8B) and sportsbook revenue ($10.9B), up 27.8 and 44.5 percent respectively. This growth was largely fueled by continued maturation across most existing markets as well as several new markets, particularly in Massachusetts and Ohio.
iGaming: 2023 online casino revenue grew 22.9 percent year-over-year to $6.2 billion in the six states with full-scale legal iGaming.
In 2023, 12 of the top 20 commercial casino gaming markets reported revenue growth compared to the previous year, with the top market—the Las Vegas Strip—seeing the strongest year-over-year gains. New Jersey maintained its spot as the second-highest grossing market, while Chicagoland (third) flipped rankings with the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. market (fourth) and Mississippi Gulf Coast (fifth) rounded out the top five.
The commercial gaming industry also contributed more to state and local governments’ coffers than ever in 2023. Throughout the year, commercial gaming operators paid an estimated $14.4 billion in direct gaming revenue taxes, an increase of 9.7 percent year-over-year. The industry also contributes billions of additional tax dollars to states each year in the form of income, sales, payroll and various other corporate taxes.
“Gaming’s success translates directly to the success of the states, cities and towns in which we operate,” continued Miller. “We are proud to be in 47 U.S. jurisdictions, acting as economic drivers, creating jobs and providing the funding that makes critical public education programs, infrastructure projects, problem gambling resources and more possible.”
Miller will make additional remarks on full-year 2023 commercial gaming revenue figures and preview AGA’s priorities for the year ahead in AGA’s annual State of the Industry webinar on Feb. 20 at 11:30 AM ET/8:30 AM PT.
For additional information about (AGA) Commercial Gaming Revenue Tracker visit americangaming.org
For registration visit bigmarker.com
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