CLEARFIELD COUNTY – Sixty Pennsylvania skills machines were recently seized from eight different businesses throughout Clearfield County.
The machines were seized by Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) and Liquor Control Enforcement (LCE) on Sept. 28 as part of “Operation Wooden Nickel,” according to District Attorney Ryan Sayers.
Sayers said machines were removed from the following four businesses in Clearfield: Snappy’s Convenience Store; The After Dark; BP Gas Station; and N&T Convenience Store.
Four were also taken in the DuBois area, including: Snappy’s Convenience Store, DuBois; Penfield Minit Mart; Redneck Reno, DuBois; and Choice Cigarettes, DuBois.
“Last year, Pennsylvania Liquor Control officers and state police approached me” about carrying out this operation to crackdown on “what we believe are gambling machines,” Sayers said.
“We believe these machines are illegal as it currently stands in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. They are not regulated; they are not taxed.”
Sayers also said a three-part motion was filed Oct. 1 in the Clearfield County Court of Common Pleas by L&M Music Co. Inc. and Nittany Oil Co. Inc.
L&M Music Co. Inc. of Williamsport distributes Pennsylvania skills machines across the state. Nittany Oil Co. oversees the Penfield Minit Mart store.
Sayers said the motion seeks the return of the store’s skills machines and associated property, as well as to unseal the search warrant and suppress evidence from the machines.
“They’re arguing that these machines seized by law enforcement are legal based upon one western Pennsylvania case,” he said of a 2014 Beaver County court ruling.
In that case, the court ruled “winning depends more on skill than chance,” making Pennsylvania Skill games legal.” Sayers disagrees. “It’s not binding on the whole state.”
“PSP and LCE started this investigation because we believe these machines are illegal,” he said, noting they are more of a gambling – or slot machine – than a game of skill.
Sayers reiterated that skills machines are not regulated like casinos and Pennsylvania Lottery games, and so, he said, there’s also concerns and reason to protect Clearfield County residents.
No charges have been filed and the investigation is continuing. A hearing on the motion will be held at 10 a.m. Nov. 29 in Clearfield County Court, according to Sayers.