Lawmakers mull impact of 'games of skill' on Pennsylvania Lottery

Tony Romeo
February 19, 2020 - 4:00 am

HARRISBURG, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — As Pennsylvania lawmakers opened weeks of budget hearings Tuesday, the impact on the machines known as "games of skill" was one of the top issues on their minds. 

Games of skill, with cash payouts, are popping up all over. They are not sanctioned by Pennsylvania Lottery, but are increasingly present in retail outlets that also sell lottery tickets. 

Related: Pennsylvania court battle continues over 'games of skill'

Lottery director Drew Svitko says last year at this time, there were about 4,000 games of skill located in lottery retail locations. 

That number has grown to 7,000, with a quarter of all lottery retailers now also hosting at least one skill machine. 

Svitko says lottery sales have taken a hit.

"We calculate more than $200 million in lost scratch-off sales just per year. And a year ago, that estimate was $115 million," he said.

The Wolf administration contends the games of skill are illegal. But during state Senate budget hearings, at least one senator cited statistics suggesting that taxing them would raise more revenue for the commonwealth.