Nov 19, 2021 - Business

Philadelphia eyes proposal to ban "skill games"

A jackpot slot machine with the "no" symbol instead of 7's.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Philadelphia wants to put the kibosh on so-called "skill game" machines that populate stores throughout the city.

Why it matters: Councilmember Curtis Jones, the main sponsor of the proposal, said these machines operate outside of state regulations with little oversight in places like corner stores.

  • These "bandit machines" — which accept cash or give out cash rewards — are plaguing communities and leading to crime around businesses that offer them, Jones said.

Between the lines: Skill games, which look like video slot machines, aren’t subject to the same regulatory processes as Pennsylvania Lottery games, officials said during a June state Senate hearing.

  • The machines, which are often untaxed and can pay out cash every week, are increasing in number and popping up in malls, convenience stores and other places in the state.

What they’re saying: Skill games have cost the Pennsylvania Lottery more than $500 million in lost sales since the fall of 2017, lottery spokeswoman Ewa Swope told Axios.

  • Skill games are currently located in more than 30% of the state lottery’s network of approximately 9,900 retailers — up from about 8% three years ago.

What’s next: Philadelphia's proposal heads to a legislative committee for a hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.


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