Note: This is an opinion piece written by Bill Kokos, owner of the Sierra Madre Saloon in Hampden Township, Cumberland County, PA.
It is never easy running a restaurant, and now more than ever I see real challenges on the horizon.
I face rising costs across the board, staffing concerns, threats of even deeper government intervention in my business and a list of improvements and repairs I want to make.
My biggest worry, however, is the health and well-being of my staff. I bought the Sierra Madre Saloon seven years ago and had about a dozen staffers then. Today, I have close to 30. I can honestly say they are a great group of hardworking individuals working together as a team to continue to grow my business. I count on them in so many ways and am always looking for options to give back to them.
Thanks to the legal skill games located in my place, I am able to do that. With the extra revenue I generate from the games, I have the financial confidence to provide my employees with 100 percent paid dental and vision. I also recently started a 401K retirement plan for them with a company match.
Being able to do this means a lot to me and, and of course, helps my staff immensely. When people hear about skill games, which you can find in restaurants, bars, veterans organizations, fraternal clubs and volunteer fire company halls, these are the stories they should know about.
Skill games allow establishment owners and club managers the ability to help their staff, through increased pay, health benefits or giving them additional hours.
The way skill games help my bottom line is simple. People come in to play the games and lengthen their time at the restaurant. As they play, they get a bite to eat and a beverage or two. If they win a little money, they may be bigger tippers with my staff. I also receive a percentage of the money that people put into the machines.
Skill games also have helped me draw more people to my place. I increased my parking lot to nearly 100 parking spaces, and was able to do that because of the financial help I got from skill games.
I’m not alone, skill games’ supplemental revenue helps other small business owners and clubs across Pennsylvania pay for repairs, purchase supplies and weather financial storms that come up. I know businesses that would have closed if not for skill games, especially during COVID.
Pennsylvania Skill, which is the brand of legal skill games in the commonwealth that are powered by Pace-O-Matic technology, are not gambling devices where winning is only a matter of chance. With these games, the more you play the more you learn about the game, and your skill level increases.
The other important aspect of skill games is enforcement. Pennsylvania Skill has a team of compliance officers. They are all former law enforcement, who make sure locations with skill games know the laws and regulations imposed on any place where their games are played.
Lawmakers should understand all of this and pass a measure that further regulates skill games and provides additional revenue for the state. I am told it would mean $200 million in tax revenue for the state each year. It also would end the illegal gambling that goes on in mini-casinos and elsewhere.
I am a small business owner who has limited avenues to earn revenue. So, one of the important ways I can boost my financial bottom line and support my staff is through skill games. These games provide more than entertainment.