Bay Tek Acquires Skee-Ball, The World's Oldest And Renowned Arcade Alley Game Brand

by Hank Schlesinger and Nick Montano
Posted On: 2/24/2016

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TAGS: Skee Ball acquisition, skeeball, Skee-Ball Amusement Games, Skee Ball, Bay Tek Games, Joe Sladek, Gaetan Philippon, alley games, arcade game history, coin-op news, coin machine

skee ball games in arcade PULASKI, WI -- Bay Tek Games Inc., based here, said it has purchased Skee-Ball Amusement Games of Chalfont, PA. The company took to Twitter on Feb. 23 to reveal its acquisition. "Bay Tek Games is excited and honored to announce the acquisition of the Chalfont, PA-based organization, Skee-Ball!" the tweet read. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Bay Tek's acquisition confirmed rumors that the fabled 107-year-old amusement company was for sale. Now that the sale is official, the firms stressed that customers will not be inconvenienced while Skee Ball's Pennsylvania operations shift to Bay Tek's Wisconsin headquarters. Both companies manufacture redemption games and amusement equipment for family entertainment centers and other operations.

Skee-Ball's claim to fame is the arcade alley game. The company's eponymous game (with various spellings of skeeball, skee-ball and skee roll) was invented by J. Dickinson Este 1909 in Philadelphia. The first games, which had a 36-ft. long lane, were sold to outdoor amusement park operators; lanes were shortened by about 60% to allow them to fit in arcades. The first skeeball tournament was held in 1932 in Atlantic City, NJ. In modern times, the game is once again a tournament favorite, but in bars and social clubs where organized leagues hold competitions. Today, by some estimates, there are more than 100,000 Skee-Ball branded alley games in use worldwide.

Not unlike any competitive redemption game manufacturer, Bay Tek produces its own line of alley games, employing the skeeball concept of rolling fist-size balls up an inclined lane at a target. Bay Tek is repositioning its latest alley game, Fireball Fusion, under the Skee-Ball brand name.

Joseph Sladek, a former certified public accountant for Price Waterhouse who comes from Philadelphia, bought Skee Ball Inc. in 1985. Sladek led the company during the redemption and FEC boom years. During the past three decades, the company not only preserved and promoted the traditional alley game, it also developed dozens of new game concepts (without lanes).

While Skee-Ball may be the highest-profile acquisition by Bay Tek, it's certainly not the first. Over the years, it acquired Meltec, Coin Concepts and Seidel Amusements, among other game factories.

Skee Ball, Bay Tek Games, Joe Sladek, Gaetan Philippon
SKEE DEAL: Skee-Ball chief executive Joe Sladek (l.) and Bay Tek Games chief executive Gaetan Philippon are shown in a photo that accompanied news of Bay Tek's purchase of Skee-Ball.