Two thirds of Americans familiar with “skill” machines deem them games of chance, AGA data shows
According to new data from the American Gaming Association, among Americans familiar with unregulated “skill” machines, two-thirds (65%) say that they are no different from slot machines where wins are based on random chance and that even a skilled player “cannot reliably influence the outcome.” The data comes as the association suggests the machines should be removed across the US.
The online survey was conducted by Kantar, on behalf of AGA, from August 11-18, 2023, among a nationally representative sample of 2,002 American voters aged 21 and over. The margin of error is +/- 2 percent and greater among subgroups.
Bill Miller, AGA President and CEO, said: “Unregulated machine manufacturers have built their businesses by duping consumers and small businesses while avoiding taxes, oversight, and consumer protections. These results are further evidence that Americans see these machines as a threat that should be eliminated, not regulated.”
“Skill” games look and sound similar to a slot machine, but incorporate “skill” components that require the player to identify a winning payline. In contrast, with a casino slot, the machine automatically credits a winning spin. “Skill” machines also differ in that they are not regulated in most states, meaning they do not contribute to state or local tax revenue and lack consumer protections.
The machines are often found in convenience stores, bars, strip malls, and other community establishments across the country, operating mostly outside of the regulated gaming marketplace. Previous AGA research estimates that 580,651 unregulated gambling machines exist in the U.S., constituting about 40% of all gambling machines nationwide.
The survey also reveals those familiar with “skill” games overwhelmingly view the machines as “negative influences in their communities” with 71% saying “skill” machines lack player protections, 64% saying “skill” machines are too easily accessible to children and 56% saying “skill” games increase the risk of crime.
Upon learning that “skill” machines are taxed at a far lower rate and lack the same regulatory oversight as casino slot machines, two-thirds of Americans familiar with “skill” games express concern about the presence of such devices in their communities, according to the trade body's research.
“Keeping America's gaming industry strong, safe, and responsible can only be done through the robust infrastructure of the well-established legal market, not by rewarding bad actors with half-measures that fail to address the dangers of unregulated gambling,” continued Miller.
This new data comes as the AGA and other industry stakeholders testified Wednesday during a Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Policy Committee hearing on the presence of “skill” games in the state.
According to the association, while most Americans see “skill” games as similar to traditional casino slots, AGA findings show for every dollar bet by consumers, regulated machines in Nevada keep 7.2 cents on average, while unregulated machines keep 25 cents.
Americans wager $109 billion each year with unregulated “skill” machines according to AGA estimates, at an annual cost of $8.7 billion in state taxes and $27 billion in legal gaming revenue.
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