Pennsylvania Bar Industry Faces Uncertainty Over 42% Skill Games Tax Proposal

Pennsylvania Bar Industry Faces Uncertainty Over 42% Skill Games Tax Proposal

A planned 42% tax on skill games poses a serious threat to the livelihoods of bar owners in Pennsylvania, adding another obstacle to their already daunting situation. Since the state’s Department of Revenue recently revealed this new tax, proprietors of pubs and taverns around the state have been filled with anxiety and uncertainty.

Bars and convenience stores frequently feature skill games, which have grown in popularity as a form of entertainment for customers. Particularly in uncertain economic times, these games—which include video poker, crane machines, and other arcade-style games—have given bar owners extra sources of income. Nonetheless, the proposed tax may significantly change these companies’ commercial environment.

The state of Pennsylvania is considering its options regarding its budget and has decided to levy a significant tax on skill games. Nevertheless, bar owners contend that this levy may have negative effects on their businesses. Many worry that the added financial strain may compel them to either boost costs, cut employees, or possibly close their doors.

Pennsylvania Bar Industry Faces Uncertainty Over 42% Skill Games Tax Proposal (1)

Bar owners often express concern about the possible effects on their patrons. There’s a chance that customers will pay more for food and beverages since higher taxes raise operating expenses. Customers may therefore be discouraged from visiting their preferred neighborhood pubs as a result, which could result in a drop in sales and an additional financial burden for the proprietors.

Moreover, some proprietors of bars contend that the tax proposal ignores the distinction between skill games and conventional gambling. In contrast to games found in casinos or lotteries, skill games incorporate a skill or strategy component in addition to chance. Therefore, they contend that it is unjust and unreasonable to tax skill games at the same rate as gambling activities.

Important Laws

  • Citing the potential harm the proposed tax could do to small companies, the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association (PLBTA) has been outspoken in its opposition to it.
  • A more balanced strategy that considers the special characteristics of skill games and the difficulties experienced by bar owners has been demanded by the PLBTA.
  • Apart from the tax itself, there are uncertainties over its administration and compliance. Bar owners want to know exactly how the tax will be computed and collected, as well as what kind of penalties they will face if they don’t comply.
  • Many worry that people might unintentionally break the law and suffer serious repercussions if the state doesn’t provide clear guidance.


For Pennsylvania’s bar owners, who are already dealing with the financial effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, the planned 42% tax on skill games poses a serious problem.

It is yet unclear if a settlement that takes into account the worries of all parties concerned can be reached while talks between interested parties and state representatives continue. One thing is certain, though: the outcome of this discussion will have a significant impact on the direction Pennsylvania’s bar business will go.

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