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You may know that Governor Corbett signed into law the Local Option Small Games of Chance Act, known as Act 90 of 2013.  This Act will permit certain liquor licenses to obtain what will be known as a “tavern gaming license” which will allow licensees to operate or sell specific small games of chance. Most of the provisions of the Act will go into effect on January 27, 2014.

The small games of chance that are to be permitted to be operated are: pull tabs, tavern daily drawings, and tavern raffles.  Video poker machines used for gambling unfortunately are not allowed by the Act.

The PLCB licenses that will be able to obtain a tavern gaming license from the PLCB are hotels, restaurants, privately owned public golf courses, brew pubs, or microbreweries with a PLCB license to sell liquor or beer. PLCB licensees that may not obtain a tavern gaming license at this time are eating place malt beverage licensees and the “stand alone” breweries

An important consideration that hopeful licensees must first verify in order to even apply for the tavern gaming license is whether or not your local municipality legally allows small games of chance to start with.  Should the licensee’s local municipality prohibit small games of chance, then a liquor licensee may not apply for the tavern gaming license.

The PLCB issues the tavern gaming license, however the gaming license application process involves two state agencies, namely the PLCB and the Gaming Control Board.  Each agency charges its own fees and will conduct its own investigation of the application. The Gaming Control Board will report to the PLCB.

There are prize limits.  The maximum prize for any single chance is $2,000.00 and no more than $35,000.00 in prizes may be given by the tavern games licensee in a seven (7) day period. Gaming licensee must have a separate bank account to only hold the net revenue generated by the games, and keep records of expenses and income for two (2) years.

The tavern gaming license cannot be sold or transferred to any other person by the liquor licensee holding a tavern gaming license.  A tavern gaming license may not be pledged as collateral for a bank loan, so it may not be the subject of a lien or security interest.

As to violations, the PLCB has the authority to fine, suspend, revoke or refuse a license. The Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement can issue citations for violations. An example of a violation is allowing or permitting a person under the 21 years of age to play or participate in a tavern game of chance.

The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue and the State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement are also involved in the interpretation of the Small Games of Chance Act and they should be consulted in addition to the PLCB.

This is just an overview of the Local Option Small Games of Chance Act.  The Act is new, and a number of issues still need to be finalized.

I will address specific matters of the Act in future articles.