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Skill games seek PA regulation

As Blair County navigates the pandemic, we are facing a time when many businesses and social clubs are determining if they can stay alive.

I know this because I hear everyone from restaurants, bars, social clubs, convenience stores, tobacco shops and many other small business owners worry as they try to keep their doors open.

My business distributes legal games of skill to these establishments. They like the games because their customers enjoy playing them and the machines can make a difference financially.

Many tell me that these legal skill games are the financial lifeline helping them stay open right now, since it’s been months since they’ve been allowed to establish normal business operations.

And it will be at least months before their revenue is back to pre-pandemic levels. Right now the health restrictions imposed on all businesses have them relying on the revenue generated by legal skill games.

There is another reason these games are so important. Not only do they provide financial assistance for businesses and clubs, they also are critical to communities.

Establishments use money they receive from legal skill games to support efforts through food drives, student scholarships, programs for children with serious illnesses, sponsorships for youth sports teams and firefighter equipment.

In April, as many people were losing their jobs, Pennsylvania Skill, which is made up of legal skill game operators such as myself, donated $250,000 to food banks across the state, providing the equivalent of 750,000 meals.

The skill game industry wants to be a partner with small businesses and clubs in Blair County and across the state.

Not many industries ask for increased regulation but that is what we want from the state. We are asking state lawmakers to provide regulation and enforcement of our industry so we can continue to be a partner with Pennsylvania.

In fact, we want the structure for providing tax revenue that would help the state now when it needs funds most.

And these games are not competing with other forms of gaming, or for that matter, gambling. There is no overlap in customers. The locations that I service say they have seen no decrease in lottery players since they have installed legal skill games.

In restaurants, bars and clubs, people who play legal games of skill are gathering to socialize and enjoy a few games while they eat.

Convenience stores, tobacco shops and other small businesses that I service are glad to have them as a source of competition within their area.

Many of these businesses that have not had to shut down completely are at a tipping point on whether or not they can stay open.

I hope the Mirror’s readers will join me in supporting our restaurant industry, taverns, clubs, convenience stores, tobacco shops and all participating small businesses by urging lawmakers to pass legislation that regulates legal skill games and provides financial opportunities for businesses and clubs.

Tom DeLeo is the president of DeLeo Games, Inc. He resides in Altoona.

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