Court alleges Commonwealth exhibits ‘bias’ against skill games
HARRISBURG — Today, Pace-O-Matic announced the company won a return of property motion in Dauphin County. This property — gaming machines, related equipment and cash — was wrongfully seized during raids conducted by the Pennsylvania Bureau of Liquor Control and Enforcement (BLCE) in 2019.
Click here to read the Dauphin County ruling.
“First and foremost, this ruling again 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.”
The ruling also castigates the Commonwealth and BLCE for their biased conduct in the matter.
Dauphin County Common Pleas Judge Andrew H. Dowling wrote, “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. Click here to read the Monroe County order.
Last month, 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.”
Barley added, “We applaud the most recent court’s decision, especially for highlighting the extreme level of bias shown by the Commonwealth against a legal product. The behavior of the BLCE agents and prosecutors, in this case, has been egregious, and we are deeply concerned about the motivation to disregard, bend and violate the law and our constitutional rights in a coordinated effort to harm our company and the small businesses, clubs, fire halls and veterans groups that benefit from skill game revenue and support.
“Every time the legality of our skill games has been called into question, the legal status of our games has been upheld by the judiciary. Pace-O-Matic stands out among our competitors as the active driving force seeking additional regulation and taxation. We remain steadfast in our commitment to working with the state General Assembly and asking for legislation providing additional regulation and increased tax money for the state.”
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.
Pennsylvania Skill games are manufactured in the commonwealth, and over 90% of the profits stay inside the state. That is unheard of in gaming and many other industries. Pace-O-Matic is proud of its record and looks forward to continuing to benefit Pennsylvania businesses, clubs, and taxpayers now and in the future.
Pace-O-Matic's Pennsylvania Skill products are manufactured by Miele Manufacturing in Williamsport, which has created nearly 200 direct jobs. Many of the materials used to make up the gaming machines come from companies in the Commonwealth. Additionally, Pennsylvania Skill game revenue has become a lifeline to fraternal clubs and organizations across the commonwealth, including American Legions, VFWs, and local fire companies.
As part of ongoing efforts to ensure compliance, Pace-O-Matic employs a team of former state police officers to enforce all terms of contracts and codes of conduct. These contracted terms limit the number of machines, where they are placed in a location and have protections in place to prevent anyone underage from playing the devices.
In 2014, the Beaver County Court of Common Pleas ruled that Pace-O-Matic's Pennsylvania Skill games are legal as games of predominant skill. Click here to read that court decision.
In addition, last year, the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General and the Clearfield County District Attorney’s office negotiated a settlement to return wrongfully seized Pennsylvania Skill games, related equipment and cash. Click here to read that order. Pace-O-Matic saw an additional county return Pennsylvania Skill games after these court decisions and settlements were reached.
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This press release was originally published by Globe Newswire by notified on March 24, 2023.