Among Americans familiar with unregulated “skill” machines, a decisive majority recognize that these devices are games of chance, not skill, according to American Gaming Association data. Two-thirds (65%) of those who are familiar with “skill” games say that they are no different from slot machines where wins are based on random chance, and that even a skilled player cannot reliably influence the outcome.
“Skill” machines are often found in convenience stores, bars, strip malls and other community establishments, operating outside of the regulated gaming marketplace. Previous AGA research estimates that 580,651 unregulated gambling machines exist in the U.S., constituting 40 percent of all gaming machines in the U.S.
The survey also reveals those familiar with “skill” games overwhelmingly view the machines as negative influences in their communities:
- 71 percent say “skill” machines lack the player protections that are available to players in casinos.
- 64 percent agree “skill” machines are too easily accessible to children.
- 56 percent say “skill” games increase the risk of crime and endanger employees and customers of businesses where devices are located.
Upon learning that “skill” machines are taxed far lower and lack the same regulatory oversight as casino slot machines, two-thirds of Americans familiar with “skill” games (64%) express concern about the presence of such devices in their communities.
“Unregulated machine manufacturers have built their businesses by duping consumers and small businesses while avoiding taxes, oversight and consumer protections. Keeping America’s gaming industry strong, safe and responsible can only be done through the robust infrastructure of the well-established legal market, not by rewarding bad actors with half-measures that fail to address the dangers of unregulated gambling.” - AGA President and CEO Bill Miller
While most Americans see “skill” games as similar to traditional casino slots, AGA findings show for every dollar bet by consumers, regulated machines in Pennsylvania keep 7.7 cents on average, while unregulated machines keep 25 cents.
Policymakers, regulators, consumers, and gaming industry stakeholders and allies can find resources to join the fight against illegal gambling at StopIllegalGambling.org.
Kantar, on behalf of the AGA, conducted an online survey from August 11-18, 2023, among a nationally representative sample of 2,002 American voters aged 21 and over. The margin of error is +/- 2 percent and greater among subgroups.
“Skill machines” were defined as machines located in gas stations, truck stops, bars, taverns, restaurants, convenience stores, strip malls or other non-casino locations that resemble and often function like casino slot machines, in that a player inserts money for the chance to win more money. They often include player interaction beyond pressing a button and sometimes include memorization games, using hand-eye coordination, or demonstrating knowledge of the game mechanics.