NEW YORK CITY — Officials of the Amusement and Music Owners Association of New York last week appeared before the New York City Council, which heard testimony from the operators group about proposed city legislation that increases the number of machines that can be operated on a premise before a city arcade license is required. The hearing was held on November 6 before the Council's Committee on Consumer Affairs, chaired by Democrat Leroy Comrie.
Current law in the nation's largest city requires locations with five or more coin-op games - or player- operated amusement devices – to obtain a license from the Dept. of Consumer Affairs, which has regulatory authority over amusement devices in New York City. AMOA-NY is supporting a law that increases the numerical trigger to 10 machines. Additionally, the association is seeking to change the DCA's interpretation of linked units from multiple games to a single game that can be played by more than one person.
About a dozen New York trade members and officials participated in the hearing. Offering testimony were AMOA-NY's longtime counsel Cary Kessler and executive director Danny Frank, who were joined by Betson's Rick Kirby.
Kirby urged the council members to vote in favor of the proposed law to help small vendors and the businesses they serve, especially during the current economic crisis. He told the committee: "It would allow our vendors to compete with consumer entertainment choices; it would help our industry and clientele create more jobs; and additional games and equipment sales would create more taxable revenue for the city."
PHOTO: Pictured during NYC Council hearing in lower Manhattan, from left, are AMOA-NY executive director Danny Frank, Betson’s Rick Kirby, and the state trade group’s legal counsel, Cary Kessler.
Additionally, the Betson executive explained how the coin-op industry and customer are evolving in the Internet age. New technology and entertainment culture demand that amusement games go online, Kirby noted, and locations may require more coin-op terminals to take full advantage of the industry's entertainment offerings
“I also want to point out that with the cost of major sporting event tickets going to astounding prices that are prohibitive to the average working person,” Kirby said to the committee, “that the neighborhood bar, tavern, club and bowling alley is indeed becoming more important to many New Yorkers. We feel that the opportunity for a vendor to offer up to 10 amusements where it makes economic sense is important at this time.”
Other industry members testifying in favor of the new law were Chuck Peitz, Tricorp Amusements Inc. (Somerset, NY); Allen Weisberg, Apple Amusements (the Bronx); Joe Bossolina, McGee Amusements (Ridgefield, NJ); Mike Maas, president and chief executive of AMI Entertainment and Merit; and Tom Faranda, AVS East.
"At issue with many operators is not the $340 annual arcade license fee, but the time and resources they spend to obtain licenses for their accounts," explained AMOA-NY's Ken Goldberg of PLK Vending (Woodside, NY).
Opposing a change in the law, Fran Freedman, associate commissioner for the Dept. of Consumer Affairs, warned the committee that raising the numerical trigger might not be in the best interest of public safety and will have a negative impact on quality of life issues. Freedman claimed that there were "quality of life" complaints brought on by games in locations, but she failed to produce any documentation or statistics during the hearing. Kessler told the committee he was unaware of any such complaint in recent years.The New York City Council is expected to vote on revising the arcade licensing law by the end of this year.