Texas Judge Says Controversial Pace-O-Matic Games are Legal: Report

Estimated read time 4 min read

A Texas judge said this week that popular machines and games played on them are skill-based, and therefore legal under state law.

The Pace-O-Matic office, pictured above. Legal debates on their games continue to be heard in courts. (Image: LinkedIn)

Fannin County District Judge Laurine Blake indicated her initial decision earlier this week on the controversial products. Her ruling marks the first time a Texas judge has weighed in on the issue of whether such games/machines are legal, according to Texas TV station KXII.

The ruling could impact other courts in Texas on similar cases.

Later this week, Blake is expected to issue an order to return the seized machines to local businesses.

The games were manufactured by Pace-O-Matic, a Duluth, Ga.-based software company.

The attorney representing the company, Joe Brown, argued the games are skill-based and legal under Texas law.

In some other counties, prosecutors and local police also have agreed the machines are legal.

The skillful player can win every time that they play, and that takes it out of the definition of a gambling device,” Brown said.

Brown wants the machines and any proceeds from the games returned to the convenience stores where they were played.

In a statement released this week, Michael Barley, chief public affairs officer at Pace-O-Matic, said, “This ruling is a monumental victory for the small businesses and community organizations that have been able to thrive thanks to skill-based gaming. Our commitment to providing legal, enjoyable, and skill-based gaming options has once again been validated by the courts.”

Others Claim Games are Illegal

Fannin County District Attorney Richard Glaser, some local authorities, and state officials have argued the games and machines are chance-based. That would make them illegal.

We told them we would seize them if they brought them in,” Glaser explained. “These look like gambling machines; they play like gambling machines.”

Some 35 of the gaming machines were seized last March at convenience stores throughout Fannin County.

“We hit Savoy, Bonham, and I think Ector,” Glaser was quoted. “We wanted to seize them all at one time.”

Legal Debates in Other States

Similar Pace-O-Matic games have become a controversial issue in other states, such as Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Last year, Pennsylvania games of skill secured a major legal victory when the state’s Commonwealth Court upheld a lower county judge’s ruling that concluded the terminals commonly found in restaurants, bars, convenience stores, and private clubs aren’t illegal gambling devices.

In a 7-0 decision, the Commonwealth Court unanimously ruled that “skill games” — games that look, sound, and operate closely to a traditional slot machine found inside one of the state’s 17 brick-and-mortar casinos — don’t constitute gambling.

The Commonwealth Court was reviewing an appeal of Dauphin County Judge Andrew Dowling’s conclusion reached in March. That found the skill games don’t violate the state’s Gaming Act or Crimes Code. Dowling said for a game to constitute gambling, “It must be a game where chance predominates, rather than skill.”

Simply because a machine involves a large element of chance … is insufficient to find the machine to be a gambling device,” Dowling said.

Dowling ordered the skill gaming machines state police previously confiscated to be returned, along with any cash seized from skill-gaming operations.

Attorney Susan Affront, who’s representing Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle Henry in the matter, says the state plans to appeal the Commonwealth Court’s decision to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Also, last year Virginia skill games once again became illegal after the state’s highest court issued a ruling overriding a lower circuit court.

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