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VGTs would be a win for our small business – here’s why | Opinion

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VGTs would be a win for our small business – here’s why | Opinion

By Dave Shultz and Danette Shultz 

As small business owners, we’ve never looked to Harrisburg or anywhere else for handouts.

We took a risk and worked hard to open Stone Grille & Taphouse, and BrewTaGo on our own in York County. We developed a business model that worked.

For customers who want a sit-down meal and a drink, the Stone Grille & Taphouse was the ticket.

Patrons who want to grab some beer-to-go have the BrewTaGo open right next door. BrewTaGo specializes in craft beer, 12-packs and mix-a-six packs (where customers can choose six different beers, and purchase them at a six-pack rate).

Thankfully, this model worked well for us as well. Like thousands of fellow tavern owners around the state, we have been able to pay our bills – including taxes – hire employees and pay vendors and suppliers.

And then the state decided to tinker with its liquor laws – and we’re paying the price. In recent months, lawmakers have managed to shred our business model; take money out of our pocket and devalue our licenses.

Big-box retailers and mega-grocery chains have made out like bandits, but tavern owners have been ignored.

The state passed Act 39, which allows grocery stores to snatch up beer-to-go licenses. It also made it possible for wineries, breweries and distilleries to sell each others’ products – practically turning them into full-service bars without the hurdles we need to clear to operate our business.

Big-box retailers and mega-grocery chains have made out like bandits, but tavern owners have been ignored.

The state passed Act 39, which allows grocery stores to snatch up beer-to-go licenses. It also made it possible for wineries, breweries and distilleries to sell each others’ products – practically turning them into full-service bars without the hurdles we need to clear to operate our business.

But the state Senate, incredibly, has approved a $32 billion state budget funding plan that does not include tavern games. Rather than step up for local businesses across the state, this spending plan is built on broad-based tax hikes on all Pennsylvanians.

Worse, rather than support tavern games, some senators are backing proposals to expand the number of casinos in our state. Proponents of are backing a rigged process that would give current operators the inside track to the next round of casino licenses.

 That’s right: it appears that some state senators would rather go to bat for billionaire casino operators based in Las Vegas over the business owner down the street.Why would anyone in their right mind want to send more money to casino operators and/or raise taxes rather than legalize tavern games and support thousands of local businesses that employ more than 100,000 of our fellow Pennsylvanians?

We don’t want to just play games in our bar, but we are tired of Harrisburg playing games with our livelihood. It’s time to legalize tavern games, balance the state’s budget and let taverns stay open.

Dave and Danette Shultz own Stone Grille and Taphouse, and the neighboring BrewTaGo in York County.

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