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Pottstown to require a license for ‘skill games’

POTTSTOWN — So-called “skill games” in the borough may get regulated, but if it happens, it will be the borough itself that does it.

There has been talk in Harrisburg of regulating the games, which some call slot machines/gambling, but a court decision called something different.

Local governments have not, until now, been much involved in the issue but back in November, the council heard a somewhat unique proposition that seems to have started them thinking.

In November, John Mizic appeared before the council with a proposal. Mizic represents a nonprofit group called Veterans Standing Together, which, according to its website, provides housing, employment and mental health services to veterans.

Mizic said the organization had an idea to help regulate skill games, raise funds to help veterans and provide additional revenue to the borough.

The idea would be for the borough council to enact a local ordinance, similar to the towing license, that would make Veterans Standing Together the only entity legally allowed to distribute and operate skill games in the borough.

Council could impose any kind of restrictions it thought appropriate, Mizic said, such as age or time limits.

In exchange, Veterans Standing Together would police those rules at no cost to the borough and provide 20% of the revenues the group earns. Mizic said that could mean as much as $400,000 in additional revenues each year.

Council seems to have rejected the idea of handing the job over to Mizic and giving his organization “a monopoly,” but does seem interested in regulating the games.

Councilman Andrew Monastra said he has watched “people playing those games who should not be playing those games,” as in people who do not have enough disposable income to spend on such games.

“I really dislike the idea of taking from our poorest people and not putting anything back,” he said. “I’d like us to make sure it’s not all profit made on the backs of those who can’t afford it.”

“I don’t disagree,” said Councilwoman Lisa Vanni, adding, “but isn’t the state doing something?”

Borough Solicitor Charles D. Garner Jr. replied “There has been talk for over a year of the state getting their hand in it, but I haven’t seen anything specific. The borough might or might not be pre-empted from enacting a licensing requirement, but it’s a relatively simple thing to do.”

Added Garner “For the short term, I don’t see anything coming down the pike. We could have this done within 60 days.”

And so they will.

The council voted unanimously to authorize the staff to draft and advertise an ordinance enacting licensing requirements for skill games.

Source: Berkshire mont

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