HARRISBURG – The Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee today heard from several small businesses from across Pennsylvania who emphasized the importance of revenue from skill games, according to Sen. Gene Yaw (R-23), member of the committee and sponsor of legislation to tax and regulate the games.
“If you want to know why skill games are important, look no further than today’s panel of testifiers,” Sen. Yaw said. “We heard from supporters from all walks of life on the importance of the revenue they provide. Skill games are critical to helping these organizations pay their staff, pay their bills, maintain their establishments, and pay for donations that help their communities.”
During the hearing, the second held this week to explore the issue of gaming in Pennsylvania, the committee heard testimony from the skill game industry and several of the small businesses they help support across the state. A panel of testifiers included Commander Stephen Holmes of American Legion Post 733 in Dauphin County, Mary Jo Bishop, owner of Steggie’s Bar in Lebanon County, and Tom Olewick, a volunteer firefighter from Penfield, Clearfield County.
“I can tell you veterans groups across the state would have closed their doors if it weren’t for skill games,” Commander Holmes told the committee. “They never would have made it out of COVID. Our post took a huge financial hit because of the pandemic. Thankfully we had skill games to fall back on. They make a tremendous difference for us. We would not be able to accomplish nearly as much as we do if it weren’t for having them at our post.”
“We can give back to the community,” Mary Jo Bishop said. “We donate to many children’s programs in the area, schools, playgrounds, plus the Humane Society and veterans’ food drives. Skill games have allowed us to do all of that. We take care of our family and try to help the community as much as possible.”
“About eight years ago we decided to try installing skill games to make extra revenue. It changed everything,” Olewick said. “Last year the games provided us with $15,000. That was enough money to pay for maintenance on our vehicles, fuel for our trucks, cover the electric bill, and help us save for a new truck.”
Senate Bill 706, sponsored by Yaw, establishes a regulatory framework and taxing structure on skill video games in the Commonwealth. Under the proposed measure, all games will be required to be connected to a terminal collection and control system that allows the Commonwealth to monitor all transactions and ensure that all taxes are accrued and paid. Additionally, the legislation will strengthen penalties for those who operate unlicensed and illegal games and gambling devices. It also includes a valid ID requirement to play and a limit on the number of machines per establishment.
“Skill games are a piece of the small business economy in our state,” Yaw continued. “It is time we recognize the benefits of this emerging industry and offer regulatory support, so we can ensure it flourishes-safely and responsibly.”
For more state-related news and information, constituents can visit Senator Yaw’s website at www.SenatorGeneYaw.com or follow him on Facebook and Twitter @SenatorGeneYaw.