I could tell hundreds of stories I’ve heard of how businesses, along with fraternal clubs and veterans organizations, have benefited in tremendous ways from legal skill games.
Instead, I will just tell my story. Sprankle’s Neighborhood Markets is a small family business run by my father, brother and I with three stores in Armstrong and Butler counties. In 2018, we decided to try something new in our stores, hoping it would be fun for customers and generate revenue. We installed skill games.
Last year, for the first time, we were able to provide health benefits to our employees and free lunches for them, all through our skill game revenue. This has allowed us to keep great staff. While businesses around us have desperately posted “help wanted” signs, we have to turn people away who want to work for us.
Telling our employees they could receive health insurance through our business was a great day for my family and made a huge impact on workers.
Chances are, you know a business, fire hall, fraternal club or veterans organization that has skill games and benefits from them. Some would have closed their doors forever because of covid and the current economic climate if not for skill game revenue.
Skill game funds also find their way into our communities. Businesses and organizations can help local charities that assist our neighbors, our firefighters and other important entities. We do an annual fundraiser for the Salvation Army, and skill game money helps us meet our goal. Because of the pandemic, Pennsylvania Skill, which is powered by the company Pace-O-Matic, gave $750,000 to food banks across the state and set up free dinners in communities hard-hit by covid-19.
I am frustrated by those who claim my skill games are taking revenue away from casinos, when the nearest one is nearly an hour away from my store.
I highly doubt anyone planning a night out at a casino decides on the way there to instead pull over at a Moose Lodge to play skill games. They are completely different experiences for patrons. For one thing, gambling is based on technology that guarantees the House wins — a lot. Skill games can be won every time with skill and patience.
Pennsylvania skill games, as well as skill games in various states, are manufactured in Williamsport and employ hundreds of Pennsylvanians. Parts for the games are made by companies across the commonwealth. The games mean millions of dollars in tax money. In fact, the skill game industry wants to pay more taxes and supports legislation introduced in the General Assembly that would further regulate skill games, using the increased taxes on the games for state the state coffers.
We also have witnessed an increase in our lottery sales since we installed skill games, which helps the state’s programs that support seniors. I know other places in Pennsylvania have said the same. We all know this to be fact because we report our lottery sales regularly to the state and have seen the boost.
There are numerous great stories about skill games across the state, and each one of my employees who now has health benefits from us can tell one.
Doug Sprankle is an owner of Sprankles Neighborhood Markets and chair of Pennsylvania Taverns and Players Association, representing the interests of small businesses and fraternal, veteran and social clubs.
This article originally appeared on Trib Live on 08/23/2022.