Ex-gaming executive’s cash seized by IRS
A former Pennsylvania State Police corporal who, until recently, held the position of compliance director for Pace-O-Matic, the company that creates Pennsylvania “skill games” at the center of a legal dispute over whether or not they are gambling devices, has had more than $400,000 seized by federal investigators.
Rick Goodling, the national director of compliance at Pace-O-Matic Inc. in Georgia, had $443,052 in cash and accounts seized from him, according to a notice of forfeiture published by the Internal Revenue Service on Sunday. The notice was posted online.
According to a spokeswoman for Pace-O-Matic, Goodling left the company more than a month ago when they learned that the IRS was looking into his individual tax return. “We have and will continue to cooperate fully with the IRS investigation and will continue to cooperate with law enforcement regarding this issue,” a spokesperson said in a prepared statement. Goodling did not respond to requests for comment.
The top distributor of skill games in Pennsylvania is Pace-O-Matic. These are machines that resemble slot machines and let users pay to play in hopes of winning a jackpot. Because players must use ability rather than chance to win, the corporation claims—and a state court has agreed—that the games can be distinguished from slot machines.
Goodling stated that he retired from the Pennsylvania State Police in 2019 after 27 years of service, during testimony given in 2023 during a Pennsylvania State Senate Community, Economic, and Recreational Development Committee hearing on skill games. During his tenure, Goodling stated that he led the state police gambling section for more than 15 years and gained recognition as a national authority on illicit video gaming equipment.
Goodling stated in testimony given during a 2019 Pennsylvania House Gaming Committee hearing that Pace-O-Matic employs a group of ex-state troopers and other former law enforcement officers who visit the company's clients in order “to weed out illegal gaming machines that should not be in the marketplace.” According to Goodling's testimony, the team notifies the state police about illicit machines and pushes for skill games to take the place of unlawful gambling machines in places like VFW halls and similar facilities. According to the corporation, skill games give fraternal groups and small enterprises a crucial source of income.
Except in the District of Columbia and Wyoming, where it is mandated by law to do so, Pace-O-Matic does not publish revenue numbers or reveal the number of machines it has in operation. The Wyoming Gaming Commission's annual report states that distributors of Cowboy Skill, a Pace-O-Matic game, brought in a total of $74.5 million in revenue in 2022.
The notification states that on November 14 and 15, 2023, IRS Criminal Investigations took $152,862 in cash from Goodling and froze his bank accounts at PSECU Credit Union ($81,871), PNC Bank ($194,413), and Bogowe Consulting ($13,906). Beyond what is stated in the public notice, an IRS spokesperson said the agency was unable to comment on Goodling's tax issues.
In addition to suing Pennsylvania over the legality of its gadgets, Pace-O-Matic has advocated for regulation and taxation of the devices, a move that proponents claim will bring in millions of more funds for the state.
Since 2017, the business has contributed more than $1.8 million to state campaign committees, including $43,500 to state senator Gene Yaw, the leading proponent of legislation aimed at regulating and taxing skill games. Yaw's district is home to Miele Manufacturing, which constructs Pennsylvania Skill Game units for Pace-O-Matic. Yaw's legal team has also sued lobbyists on Pace-O-Matic's behalf, claiming they deliberately disseminate misleading material to harm the company's operations. The casino industry and many legislators oppose Pace-O-Matic, claiming that the games have been a crime and child-enticing distraction in many areas.
Sen. Jay Costa, said last year that uncontrolled gaming machines reduce the effort that Pennsylvania's gaming law requires of casino operators to adhere to a tight set of standards.
“IRS seizes former skill game executive’s cash, accounts as part of tax investigation” , Peter Hall, penncapital-star.com, January 9, 2024.