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Pennsylvania State Police raids on Pennsylvania Skill games heard in court

HARRISBURG, Pa. – A hearing was held Wednesday to determine if Pennsylvania State Police can remove games of skill from places like bars and convenience s...

HARRISBURG, Pa. - A hearing was held Wednesday to determine if Pennsylvania State Police can remove games of skill from places like bars and convenience stores. The hearing was just one step in the court process of determining if these games are legal. As of right now, Pennsylvania State Police can not conduct raids targeting Pace-O-Matic games, also knows as POM or Pennsylvania Skill. A Commonwealth Court judge is still deciding if that will stand long term until the legality of these games is decided in court.

In the court room, arguments were made in favor of and against allowing PSP to continue to conduct targeted raids on POM. This is all part of a bigger argument - whether or not these skill games take skill or are chance, and if they are legal.

A 2014 court ruling out of Beaver County deemed these games legal. However, in November 2019, the Commonwealth Court ruled POM machines were considered slot machines under PA law, but did not state they were in violation of the gaming act. Matt Haverstick, representing Pace-O-Matic says, following November's ruling is when state police began targeting raids on their machines.

“The raids weren’t designed to go after bars or taverns because there was something else going on there that was illegal," said Haverstick. "They were designed to take out the Pace-O-Matic game because as you heard the PSP, despite the law and despite the facts just has an opinion that the game is illegal.”

In court PSP argued these games of skill are gambling and that prohibiting police from seizing them would hinder criminal investigations like fraud and money laundering.

A PSP spokesman tells FOX43:

The Pennsylvania State Police will continue to abide by the injunction that remains in place, pending the judge’s decision. Investigations into illegal gambling activities in the commonwealth are ongoing during this time. The department continues to pursue all legal avenues to combat illegal gambling in Pennsylvania.

“These illegal devices are siphoning off funding for programs that hundreds of thousands of seniors rely on. The Pennsylvania Lottery estimates the devices have resulted in the loss of more than $200 million in sales. That means there is less funding for senior programs such as property tax relief, senior centers, meals on wheels, low-cost prescription drugs and more.

The judge in the case is set to issue a ruling on if state police can continue to conduct these raids against Pace-O-Matic during court proceedings in the next couple of days.