Pennsylvania Skill Machine Games

Written by:
Michael Fatouros
Fact checked by:
Alex Windsor
May 21, 2024

Pennsylvania Skill Machine Games

The popularity of Pennsylvania skill games continues to rise, with machines popping up in cafes, bars, convenience stores, and numerous other locations across the Keystone State.

Many Pennsylvania skill machines are similar to regular slots. However, a few key differences separate the two, with the main one being that some of the game’s features rely on your ability. This raises some interesting questions – can PA skill machines be hacked? And, if so, how do you do it?

This guide intensely analyzes those queries while delving into the legality of these machines. Also, you can check out the most popular skill games on the market, and we have the best apps if you want to play online.

Are Pennsylvania Skill Games Legal?

In a nutshell, games of skill are legal in Pennsylvania. Evidence of this can be taken from a 2014 court case in Beaver County that ruled in favor of Pace-O-Matic. The court stated that skill machines developed by Pace-O-Matic do require elements of skill and, therefore, are not illegal under Commonwealth of Pennsylvania law.

Following that, in 2019, a ruling from Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court blew the industry wide open. The court ruled that the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board cannot regulate skill machines as it only has power over slots that PA-licensed gambling operators operate. A similar sequence of events unfolded in Virginia, which is why we have a rich selection of VA skill games on offer as well.

This has intensified the argument between manufacturers and small businesses offering Pennsylvania skill machines and the bosses of regulated casinos, who insist their revenue is dropping as a direct result of the increased number of these unregulated slots.

Yet, a wind of change could be coming. In Pennsylvania’s largest city, the council has linked an increase in crime rates to areas where skill machines are taking over. This has led to talk of a state-wide ban. Another proposal is to levy a 16% tax rate on these machines, which would likely curb their numbers.

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Pennsylvania skill machines are finding a new audience with online players. Many sweepstakes casinos have embraced games like Fish Catch, pool, bingo, and skill slots, making them available to players across America.

Sweepstakes casinos are different from their real-money counterparts because no purchase is required to play at these sites. However, they still give players a chance to win real cash prizes.

This is achieved by offering two modes of play – standard (free) and promotional. Typically, in the standard mode, players use gold coins that they get from welcome offers, daily login bonuses, and other promotions. Essentially, this is just a free and fun way to enjoy these games.

The second mode is promotional, which usually uses sweeps coins (SC). Again, players can collect sweeps coins from welcome and login bonuses. Also, you can obtain free SC when you purchase a bundle of gold coins. Winnings from playing promotional games can be redeemed for cash prizes or gift cards.

Due to providing the free-to-play option, sweepstakes casinos don’t fall into the same category as traditional casinos, meaning they are legal in nearly all US states. So, no longer do you have to travel to PA to play your favorite titles. They are all here on the best skills games apps.

Types of PA Skill Machine Games

Skill games have been around for many years. In fact, one of the most popular table games in Vegas is recognized as one. It is a vast category with something for everyone, which adds to its appeal. Here’s a taste of the options you’ll encounter within this ever-growing niche.

Skill Slot Machines

Slots have become the go-to skill game for many players, typically because they are easy to play, exciting, and offer the potential for some massive payouts.

On the surface, there isn’t much difference between a real-money casino slot and a skill slot machine, which has led to numerous court cases, as mentioned above. However, there needs to be a skill component of some sort, such as:

  • A Play to Win preview that reveals the amount you’ll win on the next spin.
  • Players are required to tap certain symbols to trigger wilds or scatters.
  • Bonus games that are skill-based.

Memory games are a popular skill-based bonus feature. These come in various formats. One is where a full grid of prizes flashes up on the screen before being hidden behind different symbols and then scrambled. The objective is to follow a prize and click the right symbols.

Another type of memory game involves a series of flashing dots or colors. The player has to memorize the sequence and replicate it. At first, this is easy, but as more dots or colors are added to the sequence, it becomes a true test of the player’s memory skills.


Blackjack is one of the most popular casino card games in the world. It is also classified as a skill game under Pennsylvania legislation. The reason for this is that players must make a decision on how to play their hand.

The basic options are hit – take another card, or stand – keep the cards you hold. There are also opportunities to double, split, and surrender, depending on the variant you’re playing. Ultimately, it’s the decision-making process that involves skill. There is an optimal blackjack strategy, which, if you follow precisely, you’ll get the best RTP from the game – over the long term.

Other card games, including pai gow poker and draw poker, also fall into the skill category. Essentially, the games that offer a degree of control to the player over the outcome of the hand (or game round) can be skill games. The opposite is true for baccarat and Hi/Lo because they are straightforward guessing games.

Fish Shooting Games of Skill

Many arcades have fishing games where the objective is to shoot the fish as they swim across and around the screen. In the online arena, RTG’s Fish Catch is a stellar example. There are different guns to choose from that cost varying amounts per shot. Also, it takes a different number of direct hits to land the fish and collect the coins.

Pace-O-Matic’s Dragon’s Ascent is another game in this niche; however, it uses a variety of dragons instead of fish.

What makes these skill gaming machines more enjoyable is that they have multiplayer functionality. This creates layers of strategy and tactics because players can land bigger fish that other players have shot. Sweepstake casinos have incorporated the skill shooting games popular in PA within their apps and websites. Most are made in-house using bespoke software, with some popular being:

And more. Our team has made a tips and tricks guide for fish games, which one could call a casino hack!

How Pennsylvania Skill Slot Machines Work

If you’ve played a real casino slot, it won’t take you long to get to grips with Pennsylvania skill gaming machines. But you need to be aware of the skill element, which is typically related to the game’s bonus features.

To start off, players at retail venues need to buy a card from the cashier, which they swipe at the machine they want to play. Online is also straightforward; you must make a deposit, and then you can play with your account balance.

First, you must set your stake, which is the amount each spin costs. The gameplay is like other slots in the base game – players spin the reels until they hit a win or bonus feature. Once the bonus round is triggered, players try their luck on the skill game.

Other types of PA skill slots are interactive, meaning players need to tap symbols to change them to wilds, which create winning combinations. Moreover, reveal games are also popular. These slots inform players how much will be won on the next spin, allowing them to decide whether to continue playing or not. Casinos like Riversweeps have also incorporated this type of slot machines online.

Essentially, the games are easy to learn, but you need to know what skill slot you’re playing to maximize the win potential from the bonus games.

PA Skill Machine Hacks to Win

Pennsylvania skill machine hacks have been around as long as the games themselves. Just like any video game with cheat codes, many players are adamant they know how to beat PA skill slot machines. These are some of PA skills hacks you can try.

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Living Large PA Skill Machine Hack

The Living Large Pennsylvania skill machine hack has become a victim of its success. It was so effective that any Google search for how to beat PA skill machines turns up dozens of results.

In a nutshell, there is an entry point – the prize viewer showing $0.40 with no winner. From there, players must follow a specific sequence of bets and symbol selections on each spin. The end result is a generous payout ranging from $300 to $1,200.

The problem is that the internet cafe sweepstakes games owner is well aware of this hack, making it more difficult to find machines with the entry point you need.

Queen of Virginia PA Skill Hack

The Queen of Virginia slot and several others offer a memory game after a losing spin. On the screen is a 3×3 grid with nine colors. The colors will flash, and the player has to copy the sequence.

If you can complete 40+ rounds of this memory game, you get your stake back. Put simply, beat the feature, and you get to play for free and keep all the profits on the winning spins.

Things start off easy, with the sequence only having a few flashes. However, the sequence gets longer with each round. There are also intermissions, which make it more difficult to recall the correct sequence as they break your rhythm.

That said, there are techniques that people use to improve their memory recall abilities. One concept is to give each color a consonant sound, and you make words for each color in the sequence. Perhaps, you have your own unique method for remembering things – if so, you know how to beat PA skill slot machines.

Play to Win PA Hack

Many Pennsylvania skill slot machines, such as Dogs n’ Diamonds, have a Play to Win feature that allows players to see how much they are guaranteed to win from the next spin.

However, the hack is that players can check the payout for each bet size, for example:

  • Bet $0.25 to win $0
  • Bet $.050 to win $0.40
  • Bet $1.00 to win $0
  • Bet $2.00 to win $1.20
  • Bet $4.00 to win $3.60

From this, players can calculate the best value bet on each round. In essence, it means you are able to protect your bankroll until you hit some profitable spins with the payouts larger than the original bet.

Steps to Win at Pennsylvania Skill Games

There is a common misconception surrounding Pennsylvania’s games of skill that players can beat them all the time because they are skill-based rather than a game of chance. While it’s true that the memory hack (explained above) is a proven strategy, this only applies to specific machines.

Whether you’re playing a slot or another skills machine, the game has a programmed-in RTP, which usually ranges between 90% to 95%. It can be higher for blackjack and some other card games. Therefore, the skill element helps players achieve the highest RTP, but this doesn’t mean a long-term profit because you need to win more than 100% for that to happen.

Still, we can share some tips that hopefully help you win more often.

  • Learn the Pennsylvania skill machine hacks – The PA skills hacks presented on this page work when playing on cabinet machines. If you intend on playing these games, it’s worth taking your time to learn how you can gain an advantage.
  • Filter through the play-to-win machines – Another worthwhile strategy is to cycle through the play-to-win slots and only bet when the payout is favorable. Some players leave the game even when the next spin is a guaranteed winner.
  • Play high RTP games – For long-term value, the games with the highest RTPs give more back to customers. If you’re not using a specific skills hack, then playing high RTP slots and table games is the next best option.
  • Get a real casino bonus – Online gambling is legal in PA, and there are several no deposit bonuses available at our partner casinos. Players don’t need any Chumba hacks or LuckyLand cheat codes to get these. Simply create an account and pick up your bonus.

PA Skill Machines Future

There is growing pressure to curb the growth of skill machines in PA for numerous reasons. The state’s licensed casinos have been lobbying for years that these machines are robbing Pennsylvania of millions of dollars in tax revenue.

We’d say that taxing these machines is the most likely first step with a licensing system to follow thereafter. Ultimately, Pennsylvania lawmakers need to balance the wishes of the powerful gambling corporations with the needs of small businesses while also keeping these machines away from minors, which is a problem in the current climate.

As for the games, they will continue to evolve with more gamification and skill elements added. Not only does this add variety, but it’s believed that younger players, who have grown up with video games, prefer skill and strategy games over regular slot machines.


From court cases determining the differences between skill and slots to hacks that actually work, the topic of PA skill machines is an endless conversation.

Although we predict changes on the horizon, the popularity of these games will ensure they continue to thrive offline and online. It’s good to see several social casinos including games of skill in their portfolios. This takes these fun and exciting games nationwide, with some even emerging as real money gaming apps.

You may not be able to hack an online skill machine, but you can pick up a great welcome bonus, which is just as good.


  • Are there PA machine hacks that work?

    If you play skill games online, there are no hacks that work. It's slightly different with some of the cabinet PA skills slots found in arcades, bars, and small businesses throughout the state.

    One of the most well-known hacks is for Pace-O-Matic's Living Large machine. This is a well-documented hack that tells players to follow a specific system of bets and actions once they get the entry trigger.

    Other PA skills hacks include strategies for memorizing sequences and tips for play-to-win machines.

  • Although there is a lot of negative media about skill games in Pennsylvania, they are 100% legal to play. However, it's worth considering that skill games are not subject to the same stringent licensing and regulation laws as casino slot machines. This means there is no way of knowing if the games are fair and the payouts are legit, which is a major concern, in our opinion.

  • How do PA skill slot machines work?

    The basic gameplay of most PA skill slot machines is very similar to playing a regular casino slot. After selecting your bet amount, hit the spin button to set the reels in motion. The difference between PA skill games and ones in a casino is the bonus feature.

    According to the legal aspect, there must be a skill component, such as a memory game or symbol reveal, which means skilled players can generate better returns.

Michael Fatouros

Deeply involved in the sweepstakes casino market since its uptick in the last decade, striving to keep players informed and safe. Mike has been closely monitoring the legal aspects and regulations surrounding sweepstakes casinos to guide readers to legit operators with top-notch services.

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