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Pace-O-Matic injunction application denied; judge states its games not illegal

State Commonwealth Court denied a preliminary injunction application by Pace-O-Matic of Pennsylvania prohibiting state police from seizing any of the company’s amusement devices.

However, in handing down her order, Judge Ellen Ceisler noted that POM’s games have not been considered illegal, which the company consider a “substantial victory.”

POM’s products are made by Miele Manufacturing, of Williamsport.

“The Commonwealth Court agreed that our games are presumptively legal,” Matt Haverstick, an attorney for POM, said. “The injunction was denied for locations that have illegal gambling devices comingled with our legal POM games. We are seeking clarification that the injunction is still in place for locations that have only POM games.

“Ultimately, the court was concerned that the injunction might hamper the Bureau of Liquor Control and Enforcement’s ability to conduct investigations into illegal gambling and slot machines where a POM machine may also be located,” Haverstick added.

Louis Miele, president of Miele Manufacturing, said it’s now “full steam ahead” for his company.

“The judge absolutely admitted our machine is the only current legal active machine in the state of Pennsylvania,” he said. “I feel like our future is very secure. Very safe. We grew a business and employ more than 100 people.”

POM Director of Communications Mike Barely noted the distinction between legal POM games illegal gambling devices.

“We understand the confusion that exists as law enforcement has a difficult time discerning between what is a legal skill game and what is an illegal gambling device,” he said. “Our commitment is to continue working with the Legislature to regulate, tax and provide strict enforcement of the legal skill game industry. The revenue we are producing to small businesses and fraternal clubs, the jobs that are being created and the tens of millions of dollars we have paid in taxes to the state prove that we are laying a solid foundation for the legal skill game industry that benefits Pennsylvania.”

State Rep. Jeff Wheeland, R-Loyalsock Township, is pushing legislation that would impose a tax on such games with proceeds from those revenues going to state and local governments.

Additionally, his legislation would strengthen penalties for those who operate unlicensed and illegal games for gambling purposes.

“I support Miele Manufacturing because they are doing things right, and a lot of people are benefitting,” he said.

In her court order, the judge referred to an injunction hearing in which state police testified confiscating an average of 590 gaming/gambling devices annually, including just five to eight POM games.

She noted the small number of POM machines that have been confiscated as part of larger investigations and confiscations into illegal gambling operations” as well as the fact that POM does not intend to challenge these isolated seizures as long as it isn’t specifically targeted.

“This court finds no improper conduct by the PSP (Pennsylvania State Police) that warrants the imposition of an injunction at this time,” she said.

She further noted that granting the relief requested by POM would negatively disrupt the status quo by inhibiting the state police from performing its important functions.

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