Unregulated “Skill” Machines are Games of Chance, Say Two-Thirds of Americans Familiar with Them

Washington Among Americans familiar with unregulated “skill” machines, a decisive majority recognize that these devices are games of chance, not skill, according to new 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.

“Unregulated machine manufacturers have built their businesses by duping consumers and small businesses while avoiding taxes, oversight and consumer protections,” said AGA President and CEO Bill Miller. “These results are further evidence that Americans see these machines as a threat that should be eliminated, not regulated.”

“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 gambling machines nationwide.

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 at a far lower rate 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.

“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,” continued Miller.  

The new AGA data comes as the AGA and other industry stakeholders testify today during a Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Policy Committee hearing on the presence of “skill” games in the state, hosted by Chairwoman of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee Senator Katie Muth. The hearing will be held at 11am ET at the Radnor Township Municipal building in Wayne, PA (301 Iven Ave., Wayne, PA 19087) and can be streamed online here.


  • While most Americans see “skill” games as similar to traditional casino slots, AGA findings show for every dollar bet by consumers, regulated machines in Nevada keep 7.2 cents on average, while unregulated machines keep 25 cents.
  • Americans wager $109 billion each year with unregulated “skill” machines according to AGA estimates, at an annual cost of $8.7 billion in state taxes and $27 billion in legal gaming revenue.
  • In 2022, the legal gaming industry generated a record $13.49 billion in direct gaming tax revenue paid to state and local governments, not including billions more paid in income, sales and other taxes.
  • 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.

About the AGA

As the national trade group representing the U.S. casino industry, the American Gaming Association (AGA) fosters a policy and business environment where legal, regulated gaming thrives. The AGA’s diverse membership of commercial and tribal casino operators, sports betting and iGaming companies, gaming suppliers, and more lead the $261 billion industry and support 1.8 million jobs across the country.


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