FIRESTONE, BETSON SEE “HEALTHY” OPERATORS
NEWTON, MA and CARLSTADT, NJ — Firestone Financial Corp. CEO David Cohen sees operators as decidedly “healthy” while Betson Financial Services vice-president Kevin Fritz said that “Downloading music has brought street routes back to life, strongly revitalizing the sector in spite of tougher DUI enforcement and the continuing spread of smoking bans.” Firestone and Betson work with 3,000 and 1,500 customers, respectively, to arrange loans and leases that average (between the two firms) about $20,000 per transaction. Both companies report that their business volume is up substantially in the past two years. Cohen, Fritz and Betson Enterprises president Bob Geschine spoke to VT about the industry’s current financial status…look for the full stories in the June issue.
VIDEO SALES HELP BOOST SEGA-SAMMY TO STRONG FISCAL YEAR-END
TOKYO — Net profits for Sega-Sammy Holdings in the 2005 fiscal year, ended March 31, leapt 31% over fiscal 2004 levels to $602.5 million. The company said “brisk” sales of video games in both the coin-op and consumer sectors created the surge. Sega projects net profits to reach $682.4 million next year. The company said its next generation of arcade games will be more differentiated for various world markets.
NC HOUSE SPEAKER WITHDRAWS SUPPORT FROM LEGAL POKERS
RALEIGH, NC — North Carolina House Speaker Jim Black, until now the most powerful and prominent defender of legal video poker in the Tarheel State, called for a shutdown of that market, according to local news reports. The Charlotte Observer said Black’s reversal represents the probable “death knell” for the machines. Video poker is legal in the state on an amusement-only basis, but law enforcement has consistently charged that cash payoffs are rampant. Black’s plan involves a phase-out of their operation. His capitulation comes three weeks after Iowa closed its once-legal TouchPlay market.
VIDEO VIOLENCE UPDATES: MARYLAND, LOUISIANA, OKLAHOMA
U.S.A. — Maryland governor Robert Ehrlich, Jr. signed HB 707 this month, criminalizing the sale of violent video games to minors, which recommends convicted violators pay a $5,000 fine and spend a year in prison… The Louisiana House of Representatives voted unanimously on May 16 to pass HB 421, which would classify violent video games as “material harmful to minors.” The bill establishes a possible $2,000 fine and up to a year in jail for violators who make such material available to persons under 18, or who display such material in public locations in a way that is visible to such youths… A similar “harmful to minors” bill is reportedly moving forward in Oklahoma, but it would prevent parents or guardians from showing targeted games to young people.
GAME EXCHANGE MOVES INTO 45,000+ SQ. FT. DENVER HEADQUARTERS
DENVER — Game Exchange of Colorado’s Rich and Bev Babich are reporting a smooth transition into the distributorship’s brand-new facility here, which includes a 10,000-sq.ft. showroom. The grand opening this month drew nearly 300 operators. GEC is expanding its product portfolio with the Valley-Dynamo line, among others. The new address is 2650 W. Sixth Ave., Denver, CO 80204; tel. (303) 893-4300.
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Ecast Inc. this month is providing the platform for a first-time advertising campaign in key markets nationwide by Newcastle Brown Ale. Ecast pays operators a portion of ad proceeds, depending on the number of jukeboxes on which the ad appears. The campaign is limited to locations where the audience is over the legal drinking age of 21. Ecast is online at http://www.ecast.com…
… Incredible Technologies’ most ambitious video golf game contest to date launches on June 1. The $100,000 Regional Championship Tournament will offer something for “every player, every game, and every location,” officials said. The program runs exclusive to Golden Tee LIVE, which supports a 24/7 wireless Internet connection. The tournament uses four-region, three-tiered structure of contest action that is designed to appeal to many thousands of casual GT players and to drive repeat play. IT’s website is http://www.itsgames.com…
…Rock-Ola Manufacturing Co. is now shipping a digital upgrade kit to convert its Fireball CD jukebox to Internet-access boxes that connect to the Ecast location-based network. The kit contains all necessary components, and is designed to convert the Fireball in a few hours with step-by-step instructions. The website is http://rock-ola.com…
…Rowe International rolled out the NSM Jump Kit, a retrofit upgrade that converts wall-mounted NSM brand CD jukeboxes to AMI-powered digital boxes. A 15-in. flatscreen touch monitor replaces the CD title display. Rowe executives said an operator can easily install the unit himself. Online information can be had at http://www.roweinternational.com…
… Visual Sports Systems is reporting “outstanding” earnings for its new RealSoccer Jr. sports simulator. The units are among the top five earners in locations in the UK, Middle East, Italy, Mexico, Indonesia, Singapore, the U.S. and Canada, said officials. The company also said six-month test results show that payback is 20-30 weeks at most. Learn more at http://www.visualsportssys.com.
The material here is from “Ahead of the Times, VT MUSIC & GAMES,” an electronic supplement that instantly delivers the latest news in the coin-op music and games industry. If you would like to receive Ahead of the Times by e-mail, or know someone who would, send a request along with the recipient’s e-mail address and company name to email@example.com; Subject: “SUBSCRIBE: AHEAD OF THE TIMES MUSIC & GAMES.” Subscriptions to the newsletter may only be requested by e-mail. Your request may not be fulfilled if the subject line field is incorrect or incomplete.