Gray Machines: Legal skill games are a lifeline for Kentucky small … – Courier Journal

As a small business owner, I battle against rising costs, hiring shortages and supply chain issues to keep my establishment going. I never thought I would also have to defend my business against the big-time gaming giant, Churchill Downs.

Instead of focusing their efforts on preserving the historic sport of horse racing, they are putting all of their energy into running gambling operations full of historical horse racing machines. And now they are waging an outright war on small businesses by spreading misinformation in an effort to cut out any perceived competition.

Specifically, I am referring to their efforts to ban legal skill games in our state.

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As the President of the Kentucky Merchants and Amusement Coalition, I, along with a membership of over 250 Kentucky businesses across the state, am committed to protecting Main Street Kentucky, even if it means taking on Goliath.

Why, at a time when so many businesses are hurting, would we start banning legal forms of supplemental income?

I’m also the owner of The Cue Club, a billiards and sports hub in Lexington. I operate a family-friendly place with a great staff, lines of billiards tables and great food and beverages.

I take pride in the great reputation The Cue Club has as a place of community for people looking to enjoy a night of entertainment. And that’s exactly what these games are – entertainment.

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Just like pool, darts, or Skee-Ball, skill games keep patrons entertained while producing passive revenue for my business. Additionally, when people are playing the games, they are more likely to stay and buy food and beverages.

Let’s make a few things clear.

We are extremely diligent in making sure that only adults over the age of 21 play the games and have never had any problems related to enforcing age restrictions.

Skill games are not gambling devices. Unlike slot machines, predominant skill games require the player to use their skill to win. A skilled player has an opportunity to win every time. And they often do. In fact, KY MAC and others are seeking to pass legislation that would regulate skill games, generating tax revenue for the state and curbing actual illegal gambling operations.

But the reality is that it is not about kids or illegal gambling – it’s about corporate greed. These big gaming entities want to squash any perceived competition, and they don’t care how many Kentucky businesses close as a result.

We cannot let gaming giants flex their political capital at the expense of hard-working Kentuckians.

Wes Jackson is president of the Kentucky Merchants and Amusement Coalition.