Skeeball back as lottery scratch ticket

Ticket unveiled at Pulaski business
David Wilhelms

PULASKI — Skee-ball is back as a Wisconsin State Lottery scratch game.

The iconic arcade game is featured on a $3 ticket and could award up to $30,000 instantly.

Peter Barca, secretary of the state Department of Revenue, was on hand at Bay Tek Entertainment, the game’s manufacturer, Aug. 15 in Pulaski to launch the ticket. Bay Tek Entertainment has owned the game since 2016, although the game dates back to the early 1900s. Joseph F. Simpson invented the game, and it soon became a staple in arcades.

Simpson chose the name “skee” as the game’s shape is similar to a slope for downhill skiing, a sport just starting to become popular in the United States.

Jim Keane, Bay Tek Entertainment president, pinpointed the game’s popularity over the past 110 years to “clearly the experience, the ball, the alley and the playing field. It’s the authenticity of the game. That made it the perfect complement to our portfolio.”

Keane promised that as the game has evolved from wood and low levels of technology to the bright lights and electronic display of a 2019 version, “You haven’t seen anything yet.” Displayed at the event were home versions of the game, including handheld versions.

Barca said focus groups conducted by the state lottery staff indicated that buyers love nostalgia. “They want to play real games and have lottery tickets that mimic the game play of real games,” he said.

Barca said the choice of Skee-ball reflected the desire for the lottery to partner with Wisconsin companies and “have that state flair.” He said he was also impressed by the energy and innovation at Bay Tek, vowing to take some of the company’s ideas and apply them to his department.

Bay Tek reflects some of that state loyalty, pointing out a strong pipeline to groom and hire graduates of University of Wisconsin-Stout’s gaming software development program. Kyle Berger, Skee-ball product manager for Bay Tek, also noted that the company sources most of its components locally.

The secretary said the first issuance of Skee-ball tickets in 2015 sold close to 1 million tickets in 12 weeks and accounted for 18% of all non-crossword puzzle tickets sold during that time. He added 12 weeks is the typical duration of a scratch game for the lottery.