Developer of skill games Pace-O-Matic (POM) filed a lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement (BLCE), claiming the regulator engaged in coordinated actions to harass Pennsylvania Skill location owners and operators.
‘Betrayal of the Public Trust’
POM filed the complaint in Commonwealth Court requesting the court to permanently block BLCE, alleging the regulator was colluding with the casino industry to target POM games and veterans’ organizations, clubs, and other small businesses housing these types of games. POM is the supplier of the technology which powers Pennsylvania Skill games.
It is undeniable that BLCE officials coordinated with a for-profit company to harass POM and organizations and businesses where Pennsylvania Skill games are played. This is a clear betrayal of the public trust by a law enforcement agency.
Mike Barley, Spokesman, Pace-O-Matic
In the complaint, the developer of skill games alleges BLCE has been directly involved in a campaign against POM, assisting casino operatives in their attempts to slander the company. As proof of that, POM refers to a casino public relations operative who contacted the Clearfield County District Attorney as part of a cooperative effort with the regulator in relation to a seizure of skill games.
Furthermore, POM claims BLCE had this treatment based on threat and seizures for locations with Pennsylvania Skill games only, having trained their enforcement officers to distinguish the colors and logos of Pennsylvania Skill from competitors’ games which were not targeted the same way.
Officers were instructed to misstate gaming law or court decisions as part of their efforts to influence location owners and scare them into removing their skill games, and when this was not enough to induce the expected outcome, officers threatened owners with citations that could result in them losing their location’s liquor license.
Legal Support for Scare Tactics
BLCE lawyers contacted some of the location owners offering them a reduction of citation fines if they collaborate with BLCE to build a case against POM and Pennsylvania Skill, while district attorneys throughout the Commonwealth were contacted by BLCE to enlist help from prosecutors in seizing Pennsylvania Skill games as part of the action against POM and its business partners which began back in 2018, the complaint continued.
Skill games have been subjected to strong opposition from the casino industry in Pennsylvania and nationwide for years, claiming these operations cut into casino profits. In reality, games operated by Pennsylvania Skill at locally owned small businesses – bars, restaurants, convenience stores, fraternal clubs, veterans’ organizations, and others – do not have much in common with slot machines.
To win at skill games takes mental skill and patience, as compared to pure luck for slot machines, and a 2014 Common Pleas court determined their legality due to the skill factor involved.
In this regard, the BLCE’s conduct is even more wrongful as the Bureau “has never articulated a factual or legal basis” that these games are illegal gambling devices following the court decision, concluded POM’s complaint.