John Martin, second from right, was among key officials celebrating the opening of a new marina, which houses a boat launch for the Channahon Fire Protection District in Illinois. The boat launch is among the numerous nonprofit projects and services organizations, funded by Video Charity Raffle Games, developed by Martin's company, Bar Stool Gaming, in partnership with Video King.
Money Propels Water Rescues, Staves Off Foreclosures
Video Raffles Aid Gamut Of Charities
Help has arrived and not a moment too soon. A few minutes more and the battered boat would have been capsized, casting these young teens into the rapidly rising river. All were rescued – in the nick of time
With the father now disabled and unable to work, the mother, pregnant and unemployed, this family would have lost their home – if this agency weren’t able to step in and halt foreclosure.
At their wits end, these parents finally found the help they needed, family counseling to help get their son off drugs and turn his life around – at a price they could afford.
Meanwhile, a group of friends gather at a local sports bar, trying their luck at a new game concept, while rooting on their favorite team. The ultimate goal, besides a championship win, the jackpot, $1,000 cash – paid on the spot.
Perhaps, little do they realize, their evening of light-hearted fun is now generating much needed income to help those, often facing life and death situations – and everything in between.
Six degrees of separation? No, these people aren’t really related, but there is a common theme.
Video Charity Raffle Games, developed by John Martin, executive director of Illinois-based Bar Stool Gaming,® in partnership with Nebraska-based Video King.®
Played solely in Bolingbrook and Channahon, Ill., for the past few years, these highly popular, electronic games were designed to raise money for charities.
Viewed as a modern form of raffle, Martin hopes to reach an even greater audience with their broad appeal.
“If the games are approved, it could be a boon for charities, businesses and local governments all across the state,” said Martin, who is presenting the program to other Illinois communities.
Although some have questioned their legality, the electronic raffle devices are legal, according the Illinois State Raffle Law.
But it is up to local communities to pass an ordinance to authorize these machines, he said, ready to share its benefits and spread the wealth.
Unlike slot machines or video poker, the raffle machines or gaming devices are viewed as a form of lottery, according to Will Stewart, a regional sales manager for Video King.
“It’s a great form of fund-raising,” he said. “It helps local charities, local businesses and the city. It’s a win, win, win.”
In fact, it’s really no different than buying a raffle ticket to support your children’s sports team, school program or church.
And the beauty of the program – besides the vast fund-raising potential – no up-front costs for the charities, business owners and/or municipalities, now in dire need of funding.
“We provide everything. They share a percentage of the revenue,” Martin said.
The Game Plan
The concept is based on a 24-number raffle game, developed by Video King, among the world’s largest providers of electronic gaming systems, game designs and Bingo hall equipment.
Reaching a global market, Video King’s entertainment systems can be found aboard luxury cruise liners, throughout Indian Country and in thousands of charitable, commercial and military establishments around the world.
The raffle software has a random number generator, approved by a nationally accredited, gaming laboratory.
Currently, Video King has six themed games – from leaping leprechauns to lunar orbiters – the players can choose from.
The program is available to all 501C3-qualified charities that have been in business for at least five years. However, the local communities can determine which charities they wish to receive the funding.
Once a site has been established, Bar Stool Gaming will provide the training, marketing, equipment and cash drawer. Then it’s game on ...
Moon Shot,™ Mayan Gold™ and the other themed games are played on Video King’s Champion IIs,™ the company’s highly popular, touch-screen, portable gaming tablets.
To begin, the players simply pay the bartenders to load credits onto the machines, then cash out any winnings.
“It’s the only place that I know of in Illinois, where cash is paid on the spot,” said Martin, who has been involved in charitable-funding in various capacities for 30-plus years.
To vie for the top prize, players are allowed to place anywhere from a nickel to $2.25 on games, that could pay out as much as $1,000, he said.
How Proceeds Are Shared
• The Designated Charities – who have no financial investment – will receive 25 percent. They are responsible for accounting and distribution of funds within their organizations, he said.
• The Cities – again, with no financial investment at any time – will receive 15 percent.
“They are charged with the creation of the raffle ordinance and enforcement of laws – already in place regarding liquor ordinances.”
Their money can be further designated to non-profits, or placed in a general fund for council-directed use, he added.
• Raffle Locations – with no financial outlay – will receive 10 percent. Their staff will be responsible for game administration and payouts. An added bonus, these games historically generate good will, provide entertainment, and help attract new customers, Martin said.
• The Remainder – will be split between Video King and Bar Stool Gaming.
“Video King has thousands of dollars of financial outlay as manufacturer of the machines, plus shipping, software development, gaming laboratory certification,
product liability, game design and research of the present and future games, played on the electronic machines.”
Whereas, Bar Stool Gaming – which coordinates the entire program – has spent thousands of dollars in investments to assure payouts and tech assistance to all locations, he said.
And the magnitude of its outreach can already be felt ...
Since its inception, the Video Charity Raffle program has provided funding to a wide variety of services in the Channahon and Bolingbrook area.
They include a boat launch for the Channahon Fire Protection District to make water rescues more efficient; The Community Service Council of Northern Will County, which provides everything from counseling to parenting classes; Power Connects, one of two government food bank recipients, that also provide clothing and job skills; and most recently CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocacy Association), which acts on behalf of abused and neglected children.
“It’s such a great program,” he said, with barely bottled enthusiasm.
“Charities, without a question, need funding. Cities have cut programs, and they are struggling as well. The opportunity to fund has endless possibilities.”
And, it is a need Martin – who never really left Illinois – is keenly aware of.
As it turns out, gaming, as his life unfolded, proved to be the main avenue to help him reach this goal.
Born in Springfield, Ill.; Martin graduated from Louis University and University of St. Francis, earning degrees in both speech pathology and business.
While attending college full time, he worked part time at the local YMCA, raising funds for sports programs for area youth – his first foray into the nonprofit sector.
“My mentor at the time told me, ‘This is the place for you,”’ he said, seeing his path roll out before him.
Over time, he was achieved various positions, including executive director and vice president of an Illinois YMCA and a year-stint in Greece, where he would often lunch overlooking the ancient ruins, Garden of the Gods, he said, recalling highlights of his 20-year career.
“Retired,” he eventually decided to run Bar Stool Depot, his uncle’s business, specializing in new and used bar- and casino-related equipment.
Bringing the company online, he also relocated to Vegas, branching out into various other businesses, including a patent-pending on how to donate unused slots credits to charity.
“The Vegas atmosphere only fueled my interest in gaming,” he said. “The approval process, how to build slots, what the casinos did, everything about the industry.”
Along the way, Martin was introduced to Charity Splits®, an online raffle company, which he eventually parlayed, with Video King’s proven expertise, into Bar Stool Gaming.
After touting the games in other states, he decided to bring them to Illinois.
“I wanted to help charities in my own backyard.”
Inspired by the earning potential, Martin envisioned how the current raffle law would allow these machines, so charities and towns could raise much needed revenue.
Since then, he has seen his efforts do a tremendous amount of local good.
Jacob Randich, Interim Fire Chief for the Will County Fire Protection, is among the many who agree.
“The new boat launch houses our emergency response boat, used to help anybody on the Des Plaines, Illinois and Kankakee rivers, dives, missing people. The rivers get a lot of recreational, as well as industrial use,” he said.
Although they had other means of accessing the rivers, there was nothing permanent.
The $7,000 launch is located within the new marina at the Forest Preserve District of Will County’s McKinley Woods–Kerry Sheridan Grove, a popular protected wilderness area, dedicated on June 23.
“It was pretty needed,” he said. “It cuts down response time quite a bit. In the past we had to trailer the boat to a local marina, lower into the water.
“It’d be 10 to 15 minutes before the boat got into the water. Now we’re just minutes away. Cutting off 10 minutes can very easily save a life. It’s a great benefit for the people on the rivers to have,” he said.
The program has also helped address another community’s more essential needs.
Just ask Robert Kalnicky, executive director of the CSC, the raffle program’s first recipient.
Established in 1978, the agency provides two areas of counseling: clinical for personal issues ranging from relationships, anger management, bereavement, domestic violence, teens and drugs, to housing and foreclosure.
And the need is paramount, he said.
“We see people daily facing foreclosure. We have some programs to help or act an intermediary between banks to offer solutions for their problems to allow them to stay in their homes,” he explained.
After the ordinance was passed, the agency happened to read about the new program, which could provide funding for nonprofits and reached out.
In the past year alone, they have received roughly $3,500 per month from the Charity Raffle program.
“As a HUD agency, we can’t charge for services, but we need to pay the counselors,” he said.
And the program’s relative ease has been a godsend, with charities acting basically as recipients.
“As a nonprofit, sometimes it takes a lot of effort to raise little money. Also, these funds aren’t dedicated, they’re flexible, so they can be used to support all our programs.
That helps keep our rates low, so lower income people can afford our services,” he said.
As for Martin’s hand in all these dealings ...
“It’s been great. We’re really happy, ” he said. “Since John has taken over, he’s done a great job of promoting and expanding the program.”
In other words, game well-played ...
How To Establish A Charity Raffle
• Acquire approval from the City with a Charity Electronic Raffle Ordinance.
• Video Charity Raffle is focused on helping the nonprofit community.
• Any qualifying 501C3 (must be a bona-fide nonprofit and existed for a minimum of five years) may petition to benefit from device proceeds.
• Businesses wishing to provide the Video Charity Raffle program in their locale, can contact Bar Stool Gaming at:
Sales & Technical Support Department: (815) 603-2471
John Martin: firstname.lastname@example.org
Richard Fredrickson: email@example.com
• Businesses will require a small amount of space to store and charge devices
and are required to manage the cash flow within the program.
• Business Owners, Cities, Charities and Manufacturers are paid twice monthly,
according to the statistics stored through the device servers.
• Monies are collected every 15 days by the Charities’ Designated Agent, and funds are dispersed to participants.
• • • •
Video King® is among the world’s largest providers of electronic gaming systems, game designs and bingo hall equipment. Reaching a global market, Video King’s entertainment systems can be found aboard luxury cruise liners, throughout Indian Country and in thousands of charitable, commercial and military establishments around the world. For further information, log on to our Web site: – complete with downloadable product information, a media center and online store.
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