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High Rollers

Midwest Game Supply makes the Perfect Gamble.

Story By Lisa Wade McCormick | Photo By Don Ipock

Talk about a lucky roll of the dice.  When Chuck & Linda Sohm bought Midwest Game Supply in 1986, they never dreamed they’d hit the jackpot.
“We rolled the dice,” Linda Sohm muses about buying the only dice-making company in the Kansas City region.  “We absolutely took a gamble.”

The gamble paid off.  The Kearney, Missouri, company has become a major player in the gaming industry.  Consider that in 1986 the company sold 15,000 pairs of dice a month  to casinos in Nevada and New Jersey.  It now sells 50,000 pairs of dice each month to casinos in every major jurisdiction in the country – including all of Kansas City’s riverboat casinos.  “We never imaged the business would grow as it has,” Sohm says, adding that the “we” refers to her husband, three children, a son-in-law and “at any given time, my grandchildren,” who all work for the company.

“We’re overwhelmed. And never in my wildest dreams did I for-see what has happened in the gaming industry” she says.

But don’t credit Lady Luck with the company’s success. Sohm says her family, and the company’s 35 employees, have worked harder and smarter than their competitors to become industry leaders. The company, for example, expanded its product line in the 1990s to include custom-made layouts for table games like craps, blackjack and roulette. Layouts are the table coverings that have the casinos’ game design printed onto the fabric. Midwest Game Supply is now a distributor of “every item you’ll find” on the gaming floor of a casino.

“There’s nothing in a casino I can’t get for a customer,” says Sohm, 68. “We distribute chips, cards, table brushes, slot machines… anything a casino needs.”

“The family has also brought the venture into the 21st century. “When we bought the company, we hand-painted all the dice,” Sohm says. “We also used to hand drill all the 21 spots in the dice.”

Today, the company has a machine to drill the holes and a robot to paint the dice, with the exception of their specialty dice, which are hand painted.

The specialty dice include those with casino logos and others with special security features such as serial numbers or special dots that glow under a black light. Sohm says all dice are scrutinized by employees and a machine that measures them to ensure they meet the specific requirements set by the gaming industry and casinos.

“We’re very meticulous about our dice, and Midwest Game Supply always gives us an unbelievable product,” says Joe Totoro, corporate vice-president of game tables for Ameristar Casino. He has worked with the Sohms since 1993. “Their dice are always solid; they’re always square, and they’re always consistent. That’s why they’re called “Certified Perfects” Sohm says. They need to be. The margin for error on dice is less than the width of a strand of hair. “There’s just too much at stake” she says.

2006 Article Reprinted with permission from:

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