NORCROSS, GA -- The Georgia Amusement and Music Operators Association held its annual convention and trade show at the Hilton Hotel in Norcross, GA. GAMOA secretary Steve Walton of Quarters Amusement (Fayetteville) reports that the 2013 event was the largest in the association's history.
The convention got off to a quick start on Friday, Nov. 1, with the opening of the exhibit hall. More than 30 manufacturers and suppliers displayed and demonstrated the latest products for all areas of the amusement industry from complete games to software management programs. Attendance was robust, as more than 100 operators toured the show on its first day. GAMOA's scholarship fund auction was held in the exhibit area in the afternoon.
Walton explained that the auction is an annual fundraiser supported strongly by donations from suppliers, members and affiliated companies. Products offered at auction ranged from complete location-ready games to Atlanta Falcons suite tickets. Very popular at this year's auction were consumer electronics such as iPads, iPad minis, laptop computers, 42" LCD TVs and many more desirable items that sparked vigorous competitive bidding.
Walton added that GAMOA is raffling off a Mercedes to raise funds. Raffle tickets are being sold for $100, and are limited to 3,000 tickets. The drawing will be held at the GAMOA meeting in January. The tickets may be purchased from GAMOA members or on the association's website, gamoa.org.
The first day's program culminated in a cocktail party and banquet. A highlight was an awards ceremony at which the late Don Hankinson was honored as the founding father of GAMOA. His family was in attendance to accept the award and participate in the banquet.
IN MEMORIAM: GAMOA honored the memory of Don Hankinson, who launched Phoenix Amusements (Atlanta) and became a founder of the association, at a ceremony during its conference. Hankinson died in June. Here, GAMOA legal counsel and cofounder Les Schneider (l.) and GAMOA president Butch Foshee (r.), Paradise Amusements (Jackson) present plaque to the honoree's son, Don Hankinson Jr., present owner of Phoenix Amusements.
Two knowledgeable speakers addressed the annual banquet. Debbie Alford, president and chief executive of the Georgia Lottery Corp. (Atlanta), and John Pascaretti, Pascaretti Enterprises (Warren, MI), president of the Amusement and Music Operators Association (West Dundee, IL). Both focused on the importance of the amusement industries being unified and the value of association involvement in furthering that end and providing solid benefits to members. The emphasis was on the amusement industry and government agencies working together to make the future brighter for everyone.
The program on Saturday, Nov. 2, opened with a panel discussion moderated by Walton. Panelists represented all areas of the Georgia amusement and music industry.
American Amusement Machine Association president Peter Gustafson, Sega Amusements (Elk Grove Village, IL), kicked off the discussion with a high-energy motivational speech. Other panelists were Mike Parham, Georgia Lottery Corp.; GAMOA government affairs counsel Sheila Humberstone, Troutman Sanders Strategies (Atlanta), who is GAMOA's liaison with the GLC; and longtime GAMOA legal counsel Les Schneider, managing partner of Wimberly, Lawson, Steckel, Schneider & Stine (Atlanta). Each panelist made a brief presentation and then fielded questions from the large crowd.
Discussions centered around Georgia's new redemption regulations. In April, the governor signed a bill that changed the code for regulating Class B coin-operated amusement machines. The measure, HB 487, affects games in which players earn points or tickets that can be redeemed for merchandise on the premises, known as "adult redemption" in industry parlance. The bill classifies skill games as Class A machines, and those that accumulate points as Class B. (see VT, April).
Following the discussion, the exhibit reopened and brisk traffic resumed.
"The 2013 GAMOA show was a great success, with exhibits, networking, idea exchanges, educational information, fun, food and entertainment for everyone in attendance," Walton summed up. He reported that planning will soon commence for the 2014 GAMOA show. High on the planners' list of priorities is the search for a larger conference and trade show venue. "We had to turn down a number of exhibitors and limit booth space due to the space we had inherited from the previous year," the GAMOA secretary added.
Established more than three decades ago, the Georgia Amusement and Music Operators Association has striven continually to improve the business atmosphere and regulatory environment for the state's coin-op amusement industry. The association emphasizes that wholehearted participation by the greatest possible number of industry members is essential to sustaining this campaign.
WORKING TOGETHER: 2013 GAMOA convention broke attendance records as the state's coin-op industry continues to rebound. At left, festive crowd takes part in GAMOA fundraising auction with president Butch Foshee (standing at right) serving as auctioneer. At right, Georgia Lottery Corp. president and CEO Debbie Alford addresses annual banquet; she lauded the beneficial effect of cooperation between the industry and the state.