Betting Real Money on Arcade Games are Under Scrutiny by the PGCB

Dane Terrell
Dane Terrell
Betting Real Money on Arcade Games are Under Scrutiny by the PGCB


  • Dave & Busters allows 18-year-olds and up to make real money wagers with select arcade games under the skill game category.
  • The PGCB is expected to make a ruling about arcade game bets.
  • Illinois is already trying to ban arcade game betting.

While e-sports is considered an Olympic sport in countries like China, there's a new trend among PA online casinos and retail sites like Dave & Busters permitting players to bet on arcade games. If you grew up in the '80s and the '90s, you probably played classic games like Street Fighter 2, Mortal Kombat, and Pac-Man. But now, Pennsylvania gamblers are getting their chance to make real money wagers starting at Dave & Busters. Thanks to a loophole, Dave & Busters classifies arcade games as skill games.

The topic of skill games has been hot in recent months, with pressure from the Pennsylvania legislature to pass definitive legislation on what classifies as skill games to crack down on illegal PA online gambling. For now, Dave & Busters, which is also a sports bar, is allowing its patrons to bet against players playing each other, beginning with arcade-style basketball games and other select games.  

The Keystone State supports the most Dave & Busters chains, so the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is critically examining this new playing wrinkle. The first potential problem is that Dave & Busters' customers only have to be 18 to participate in real money arcade wagers. To start, Dave & Busters set a $10 maximum bet per playing round to maintain gaming order. Also, mimicking prime online casinos like Caesars Palace and BetMGM, Dave & Busters lets arcade game winners rack up comp points and perks that can be used for other bonuses and promotions through their official casino app.

Regulated PA sports betting and Pennsylvania online casino games and retail casinos require members to be at least 21 to make a real money bet. So, if this new precedent is allowed to stand, it might create unrest for organized casinos to want to lower their minimum age threshold to compete. Because the Pennsylvania gambling market delivers the second most gambling tax revenue behind Nevada, with over $5 billion annually, this precedent can spread to other gambling meccas like New Jersey and Michigan.   

As we previously mentioned, the subject of skill games continues to be discussed. Right now, the PGCB classifies skill games as sanctioned machines. Furthermore, the Commonwealth's legislature voted last December to make skill games legal throughout the Keystone State. The argument against skill machines is that they operate like pseudo slot games. With organized slot machines, they are required to use a random number generator to verify fair and transparent results. With many skill machines, especially with arcade games, the door is open for wild and unregulated results.

While the PGCB is looking to gather more details to make a ruling, Illinois is already coming up with a bill to block these unregulated arcade game wagers. With over 160 Dave & Busters locations in the country, other states like Ohio are also keeping a close eye on Illinois and Pennsylvania.  

Dane is a 2003 graduate of San Francisco State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Radio and Television Broadcasting. During his college days, Dane interned for KRON 4 News, a major television station in the San Francisco Bay Area where he wrote sports copy for now-retired, and legendary sports broadcaster Gary Radnich. Post graduation, Dane kept writing and starting writing copy for the emerging iGaming industry. Dane also loves to write screenplays and loves to develop websites, with Laravel and React. And every know an then, Dane loves a peaceful train