Our AVHA Spotlight Series features articles on the amazing, wonderful, and creative things our Association members do! If you have a great story you'd like to share, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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Sometimes, we don’t know how lucky we are. While there are things we can clearly see: a fortunate puck bounce, the ref looking the other way when our kid trips someone, a shot hitting the post instead of going in…other things, are not so obvious. Our charitable gambling operation falls into that latter category. While you might not see the work being done, you absolutely feel its effects.
Apple Valley Hockey Association (AVHA) is a licensed charitable gambling organization, selling pull-tabs, tip-boards and running bingo sessions. We have three Apple Valley locations: Rascals, Wild Bill’s Sports Saloon and Panino Brothers. The proceeds are about equally divided between paying Minnesota state taxes, funding the gambling operation and (most importantly) funding our youth hockey association!
Our charitable gambling operation (like our hockey season) was deeply impacted by Covid-19. Employees faced numerous challenges, including substantially reduced hours. Despite the enormous challenge of working in bars and restaurants during a pandemic, they keep a smile on under their masks and were there to have fun with the customers. Next time you see them, make sure to thank them for the work they do.
The reason we have significantly reduced hockey bills (in some cases, no bills at all) is a direct result of the incredible dedication and work done by these amazing people!
Randy Olson has been the AVHA Gambling Manager since 2007 and is presently responsible for 26 employees. He is a man of many hats, including the one that keeps our operation in compliance with all state laws and regulations. Additionally, Randy manages human resources, selecting vendors, maintaining relationships with bars and restaurants and overseeing daily activity. He provides monthly reports to the AVHA Board during our regularly scheduled meetings.
Patty Leahy has been an Assistant Gambling Manager since 1996. She organizes bingo sessions, keeps the books, does payroll, tracks inventory and prepares the state and federal monthly reports. Patty is also responsible for making sure each location has adequate supplies and handles many of the day-to-day issues that arise regarding employees and staffing.
Carolee Nelson has been an Assistant Gambling Manager since 2008. She is not only a pull-tab seller and bingo overseer, but is also instrumental in planning booth and bingo operations at all locations. Carolee is responsible for researching and ordering games for people to play. She also manages publicity and is the link to our customers and works hard to keep people coming back and playing. Carolee also ensures booth aesthetics are up to standards and properly adorned for the different holiday seasons.
For the day-to-day work at our pull-tab locations, we have approximately five sellers working various shifts. They sell seven days a week, presently from 11 AM to 11 PM. We are fortunate to have a wonderful group of pull-tab sellers who know what “customer first” means while still making good long-term decisions for our business. Everything hinges on our seller’s performance and the results speak for themselves: as soon as bars and restaurants were allowed to open back up, our pull-tab operation came roaring back!
Then there’s the bingo gang. On Tuesday nights at Rascals, there are always five employees that run bingo games and sell meat raffle tip-boards (which are immensely popular). At the Wild Bill’s location, we run bingo on Wednesdays at 7 PM (8 games) and on Saturdays at 1:30 PM (12 games) along with gift card tip-boards. Saturday bingo is typically run by five or more bingo employees. Although not our top revenue generator, bingo is instrumental in bringing in customers for our bar and restaurant hosts, which in turn, is good for AVHA!
Even if you’re not a gambler, our restaurant and bar locations are all great places to eat, have a beverage of your choice and reminisce on the hockey season. We know you’ll find something you like at each of them. While you’re enjoying great food, drink and conversation, be sure you stop by the booth, buy a few pull-tabs and say hello to the employee on duty. Tell them you’re an AVHA hockey member, they would love that!