The PA Skill Games Tax Debate: Is 16% Too Low?

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The PA Skill Games Tax Debate: Is 16% Too Low?

The controversy surrounding the regulation of skill games in Pennsylvania has just turned up the heat, with Parx rep Pete Shelley going head-to-head with Mike Barley, Pace-O-Matic Public Affairs Officer, on ABC27’s This Week in Pennsylvania. 

PA online casinos have long since called for efficient regulation of the game machines that are so popular across the state, and it appears that now the biggest question boils down to which proposed tax structure is going to win.

A 54% Skill Games Tax Might Be on The Cards

So far, two different proposals have been put forward - a 42% tax by Governor Josh Shapiro, and a much more lenient 16% put forward by Senator Gene Yew. The latter has already reached the Gaming Oversight Committee. However, speaking on ABC27 last week, Shelley called the 16% tax “laughably low”, floating the idea of 54% instead.

This isn’t the first time Parx Casino has been vocal on the issue. When the debate first started, CEO Eric Hausler had commented about how “odd” it was that slots in the Keystone State are taxed at 54% while skill games get a free pass.

Parx CEO Eric Hausler said that it’s “odd” how casinos are required to pay $50 million for a gambling license, with slots taxed at 54%, while skill games are “paying zero”. More recently, Parx rep Shelley also wrote a scathing opinion piece for Go Eirie, where he described Yew’s proposal as “absurdly low”, adding that “tax parity is common sense and a matter of simple fairness: slot machines, skill games and VGTs should pay comparable rates”.

When Can Pennsylvania Expect a Resolution?

The debate is likely to rage on for a while, as there’s no sign that either law is going to be passed any time soon. While both tax structures continue to be debated, some cities like Philadelphia took matters in their own hands and issued an outright ban on skill games. The decision is currently being challenged in court

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