Pennsylvania Skill Gaming Parlor Opens Near Parx Casino Shippensburg

Posted on: December 22, 2022, 10:41h. 

Last updated on: December 22, 2022, 11:09h.

A Pennsylvania skill gaming parlor has opened just west of the Harrisburg capital across the Susquehanna River in Mechanicsburg.

Pennsylvania skill gaming Keystone Klub
The Keystone Klub skill gaming parlor in Mechanicsburg is located at 5001 Carlisle Pike. The Pennsylvania skill gaming business offers slot-like gaming terminals that come with a skill element. (Image: PennLive)

The Keystone Klub Gaming Parlor is a skill gaming facility that offers 20 gaming terminals. The machines look and sound similar to traditional slot machines, but differ in how they determine whether a play wins or loses.

Unlike a Las Vegas-style slot machine, which automatically reveals if a gambler’s spin won or lost, a skill game typically requires the player to identify a winning pay line. A skill player usually must tap the reel symbols that deliver an award.

Skill games remain operating across the commonwealth in a gray area. The devices are common in bars and restaurants, gas stations, and convenience stores. Entire retail businesses, such as the Keystone Klub, have also been dedicated to the controversial gaming devices.

Skill gaming machines issue receipts that players redeem for physical cash at the device’s host establishment. The machines are unregulated and untaxed, with the business sharing each machine’s net revenue with the terminal’s manufacturer and route distributor.

The Keystone Klub is about 30 miles east of where Parx Casino Shippensburg plans to open in February 2023. The satellite casino will debut with 500 slot machines, 48 electronic table gaming positions, and sports betting kiosks.

Legal Dispute Ongoing

Pennsylvania’s legal commercial gaming industry opposes the proliferation of skill games across the state. Pennsylvania is currently home to 16 regulated brick-and-mortar casinos, plus iGaming with online slots and interactive table games, The Pennsylvania Lottery and Pennsylvania State Police also oppose skill gaming.

The state lottery and casino interests believe skill gaming has hurt their operations by more than $650 million in gross revenue. That’s since the divisive machines began infiltrating the commonwealth in 2017.

Skill gaming proponents argue the machines don’t violate state gaming laws because the Pennsylvania Gaming Act regulates only licensed slot machines — not gaming machines that include skill elements.

State lawmakers have been thrown into the middle of the controversy, and the politicians are hearing from both sides.

Local business owners say skill gaming has offset some of their COVID-19 losses and helped secure their financial stability during an unsettled economy where inflation is raging and overhead continues to escalate.

Friendly Environment

Though the Pennsylvania General Assembly is expected to take up skill gaming again next year, for now, the state offers a skill gaming market with little threat of legal repercussions.

Keystone Klub owners David and Kim Eilers recently relocated to Pennsylvania from North Carolina, where they had previously run skill gaming venues. The couple moved north after the North Carolina Supreme Court earlier this year ruled that skill gaming machines are illegal.

We liked the gaming idea and we wanted to go somewhere where it’s more legal,” David Eilers told PennLive this week.

Eilers believes his Keystone Klub will find favor with skill gaming players who have become accustomed to playing the machines in bars and convenience stores.

“It’s not the same as sitting in the back of a gas station or a corner bar,” said Nadine Riess, another Keystone Klub co-owner.

Pace-O-Matic, a leading manufacturer of skill games, said Pennsylvania’s November casino revenue report shows that skill games aren’t negatively impacting casinos. State gaming revenue totaled $452.3 million last month — a nearly 5% year-over-year increase.

“Clearly, Pennsylvania’s gambling industry is strong, and we wish them continued success,” said Pace-O-Matic Chief Public Affairs Officer Mike Barley.

However, as the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board whispers news of their success about record gaming profits out of one side of their mouth, they shout that legal skill games are killing their industry revenues out of the other,” Barley continued. “This is a case where the facts don’t square with the rhetoric.

“The truth is that legal skill games have a place in Pennsylvania, supplementing revenue for small businesses, veterans groups, and fraternal clubs. Despite consistent rhetoric from some in the casino industry, there is absolutely zero proof to validate the false claims that skill games harm casino or lottery profits,” Barley concluded.