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Virginia Small Business Owners Launch Coalition Supporting Skill Games, Opposing Illegal Gaming

Virginia Merchants and Amusement Coalition (VA MAC) advocates for regulating and taxing skill games and aiding law enforcement in tackling illegal gaming.

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RICHMOND, Va. (Newswire.com) – Today, small business owners from a growing collection of restaurants, retail establishments, bars, convenience stores, truck stops, and other organizations proudly announce the formation of the Virginia Merchants and Amusement Coalition (VA MAC). The coalition’s mission is to support Virginia small businesses by protecting legal skill games and aiding law enforcement in combating illegal gaming.

Members of VA MAC are working to further educate Virginia lawmakers on how important skill games are to local businesses while urging the General Assembly to pass legislation that would regulate the games, producing tax revenue for the Commonwealth.

“This is about looking out for Virginia’s small businesses who count on skill games to create local jobs, generate revenue, and support economic growth in our communities,” said VA MAC President, Rich Kelly, owner of Hard Times Café with four locations in northern Virginia. “VA MAC is just the beginning of our efforts to support the regulation of skill games and to stand with law enforcement in their work to end illegal gaming.”

Skill games provide additional revenue to small businesses by supplementing their traditional income base. For many businesses, these games made it possible to recover from the income losses experienced during the pandemic, manage the skyrocketing price of goods, and meet higher-than-expected wages during the current labor shortage.

Skill games provide location partners with 40% of profits with no hidden fees or additional costs. Another 35% goes to a local operator. Virginia-based distributors also make a percentage of the profit, ensuring that over 75% of the revenue generated by skill games stays within the local community. Legal skill games have also generated hundreds of millions of dollars for the Commonwealth in additional tax revenue. 

“Our Commonwealth is at a crossroads. Until skill games are regulated, Virginia will continue to miss out on an estimated $130 million in tax revenue per year, and potentially much more,” added President Kelly. “Now our small businesses need your help to keep their doors open — and keep skill games in our locations. At VA MAC, we’re spreading that message across the Commonwealth, encouraging Virginians to contact their legislators and express the urgency in protecting legal skill games and supporting Virginia small businesses.”

Regulating and taxing legal skill games will also help law enforcement better identify bad actors and put a stop to illegal gaming operations. These entities harm communities and jeopardize the success of legitimate establishments.

In addition to advocating for the regulation of skill games, VA MAC members have made serving their communities a critical part of the organization’s mission. In the coming months, VA MAC members will give back in various ways, contributing to local causes such as homeless shelters, youth sports, and organizations that fight food insecurity.

To learn more about VA MAC, visit www.joinvamac.com.

Source: Virginia Merchants and Amusement Coalition

financial wellness

Turn Your Tax Refund Into a New Ride

As tax refunds are beginning to come in, it’s an excellent opportunity for people to explore different investment avenues and make the most of their money.

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Make a major purchase more manageable

(Family Features) With tax refunds starting to flow in, many people are considering ways to invest their money.

If you’re looking to purchase a vehicle, putting your tax refund toward a down payment on a used car can be a smart financial decision for several reasons – from reduced interest rates on your loan and shortened loan terms to lower monthly payments – and the timing is right to take advantage of improving market conditions. Consider this information to help make an informed buying decision.

Lower Your Monthly Payment
The more you can invest in the down payment of a vehicle, the lower your monthly cost will typically be and the less interest you will typically pay over the length of the loan. This can lead to smaller, more manageable monthly payments.

A significant down payment can also help offset higher-than-average interest payments and could lead to a shorter term, meaning less total accrued interest. An auto loan calculator can show you how a down payment can affect interest charges.

More Affordable Vehicle Options
Used car prices have been trending downward month-over-month, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ consumer price index. These decreases in used car prices are helping offset higher than normal interest rates. The average sales price for a pre-owned vehicle through Enterprise Car Sales, for example, is approximately $21,000 right now, compared to average new car prices, which are hovering around $44,000.

Vehicle inventory is improving along with an increase in consumer demand for cars, which makes now an attractive time to buy. Many used car sellers feature inventory that is readily available so you can select from options you know are in stock, including different makes and models with a wide range of different features that can offer more affordable options.

“We have a large inventory of vehicles across the country currently priced under $20,000,” said Mike Bystrom, vice president of Enterprise Car Sales. “There are several considerations to keep in mind when shopping for a vehicle, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Consumers should weigh their options, but the one thing they shouldn’t compromise on is receiving great customer service.”

Protect Your Purchase
Ensuring your purchase is protected is also a smart financial decision. Take advantage of dealers that offer additional benefits to help protect your purchase and provide peace of mind that your tax refund has been well spent.

Look for a used vehicle that has passed an inspection by an ASE-certified technician and comes with a limited powertrain warranty, as well as extra coverage options such as roadside assistance and a return policy up to a certain amount of days or mileage.

With a little research and careful planning, you can find a reliable used car that meets your needs and puts your tax refund to good use. Visit enterprisecarsales.com for more information.


SOURCE:
Enterprise Car Sales

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Spotify Price Increase: What to Know About Higher Music Download Service Fees

“Spotify raises prices for music download services, introducing new features and tiers. The music keeps playing, with an enhanced listening experience!”

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photo of woman wearing white headphones. "Image: Spotify logo with a price tag overlay, representing the price increase for their music download services."
Photo by Sound On on Pexels.com


Music streaming giant Spotify has shaken up the industry once again with its recent announcement of raising prices for its music download services. In this blog post, we will explore the details of the price increase, its potential impact, and the new features Spotify plans to introduce. Let’s dive in!

The Price Changes:
According to a Bloomberg report, Spotify will be increasing prices in the United States, as well as in various international markets. Individual plans are anticipated to rise by approximately $1 per month, while family plans will see a $2 increase. These changes come as Spotify aims to better serve its diverse user base.

New Pricing Tiers and Features:
In addition to the price hike, Spotify plans to introduce new pricing tiers and services. One exciting possibility is the inclusion of a higher audio quality option. Audiophiles and music enthusiasts will likely appreciate the enhanced listening experience this feature brings forth.

The Reason Behind the Price Increase:
As technology and licensing costs continue to rise, it’s no surprise that Spotify must adjust its pricing to ensure sustainability and continue offering a top-notch music streaming experience. The company consistently seeks to strike a delicate balance between providing affordable access to music and fair compensation for artists.

Impact on Users:
While any price increase can be an unwelcome change, it is crucial to consider the value Spotify brings to the table. With millions of songs at your fingertips, personalized playlists, and groundbreaking algorithms that recommend music you’ll love, the platform remains an extraordinary resource for music lovers.

Alternatives to Consider:
If the price increase has you rethinking your music streaming subscription, it’s important to remember that there are several other streaming services available in the market. Platforms like Apple Music, Amazon Music, and YouTube Music all offer unique features and vary in pricing. It’s worth exploring these alternatives to determine which one aligns best with your needs and budget.

The Bigger Picture:
As digital music consumption continues to evolve, it’s essential to recognize the efforts Spotify makes to support artists and drive the music industry forward. Despite the increase in pricing, Spotify remains committed to nurturing talented musicians, ensuring a platform for creativity, and connecting artists with their fans.

Ultimately, Spotify’s pricing adjustment reflects the constant evolution of the music streaming landscape. While price increases are never easy to digest, it is vital to appreciate the immense value Spotify provides to millions of users worldwide. As Spotify rolls out these changes and introduces new features, we can look forward to an even better music streaming experience. So, open your playlist, turn up the volume, and let the music continue to inspire and uplift you on Spotify!

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Business and Finance

Pickleball Growth & Outdoor Sports Gear: Insights from Escalade’s Financials

Explore how Escalade’s financial report affects pickleball gear innovation and availability in the outdoor sports industry.

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Pickleball Growth?

Escalade, Inc. (NASDAQ: ESCA) has recently announced its fourth quarter and full-year 2023 results. While net sales saw a decrease, there were improvements in gross margin and operating income.

These results have implications for outdoor sports, including pickleball – a fast-growing recreational activity. Let’s dive into what this means for the world of outdoor sports and how it may impact pickleball enthusiasts.

In the fourth quarter of 2023, Escalade reported a decline in net sales by 9.2%, primarily due to softer consumer demand across most product categories. However, there was also improved demand in the basketball and indoor games categories. Despite the decrease in net sales, Escalade saw positive developments in gross margin, which increased by 192 basis points compared to the prior year’s quarter. This improvement was driven by price discipline, a favorable sales mix, and reduced costs of freight and storage.

For the full year 2023, Escalade experienced a decrease in net sales by 16.0%. However, gross margin only declined by 3 basis points, indicating some resilience in maintaining profitability. Operating income saw a larger decline of 32.3%, reflecting the challenging market conditions. Nevertheless, Escalade generated significant cash flow from operations, with a substantial increase compared to the prior year.

What does this mean for outdoor sports, particularly pickleball? While Escalade manufactures and distributes a variety of sporting goods and recreational equipment, their Onix brand focuses on pickleball. The financial performance of Escalade has the potential to impact the availability and innovation of pickleball equipment and products. As Escalade continues to navigate the current macroeconomic environment, it will prioritize reducing debt while investing in its brands and product portfolio.

Pickleball, a paddle sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis, has been growing in popularity, especially among older adults. As more individuals embrace outdoor activities, the demand for pickleball equipment is likely to continue increasing. By closely monitoring the financial performance of companies like Escalade, pickleball enthusiasts can gain insights into the availability and development of high-quality equipment to support their game.

Escalade’s commitment to reducing debt and strengthening its balance sheet also indicates stability and the potential for future investments and product innovations. This can have a positive effect on the pickleball community, as new and improved products may enhance the overall playing experience.

In conclusion, while Escalade has reported some declines in net sales and operating income, the improvements in gross margin and cash flow from operations are promising. For outdoor sports enthusiasts, including pickleball players, it signals continued opportunities for innovation and growth in the industry. As Escalade focuses on reducing debt and investing in its brands, the future looks bright for those who enjoy outdoor recreational activities like pickleball. Stay tuned for further updates and exciting developments in the world of outdoor sports.

CONFERENCE CALL

A conference call will take place on Monday, April 1, 2024, at 11:00 a.m. ET to discuss the Company’s financial results, recent events, and answer questions.

A live webcast of the conference call along with the presentation materials will be accessible in the Investor Relations section of Escalade’s website at www.escaladeinc.com. To listen to the broadcast in real-time, please visit the website at least 15 minutes before the scheduled start time to register, download, and install any audio software that may be required.

To participate in the live teleconference:

Domestic Live: 1-877-407-0792
International Live:  1-201-689-8263

To listen to a replay of the teleconference, which subsequently will be available through April 15, 2024:

Domestic Replay:  1-844-512-2921
International Replay:1-412-317-6671
Conference ID:  13745214

USE OF NON-GAAP FINANCIAL MEASURES

In addition to presenting financial statements following U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), this release includes a non-GAAP financial measure called EBITDA. A reconciliation of this non-GAAP measure can be found at the end of the press release. EBITDA is used by Escalade to compare operating performance over time. Escalade believes that disclosing EBITDA provides valuable information to investors about its financial condition and results. Non-GAAP measures should be seen as a supplement and not a replacement for the company’s GAAP measures of performance and financial results. When evaluating these measures, it’s important to consider the limitations and also analyze the company’s results as reported under GAAP.

ABOUT ESCALADE 

Escalade, established in 1922 and headquartered in Evansville, Indiana, is a company that designs, manufactures, and sells sporting goods, fitness equipment, and indoor/outdoor recreation products. The company’s goal is to foster connections among family and friends, creating lasting memories. Escalade is a leader in various categories and its brands include Brunswick Billiards®, STIGA® table tennis, Accudart®, RAVE Sports® water recreation, Victory Tailgate® custom games, Onix® pickleball, Goalrilla™ basketball, Lifeline® fitness, Woodplay® playsets, and Bear® Archery. Escalade’s wide range of products can be purchased online or at leading retailers throughout the United States. For more information about Escalade’s brands, history, financials, and governance, please visit www.escaladeinc.com.

https://stmdailynews.com/sleeves-senior-pickleball-report/

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