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The Timeless Operator
Issue: Vol. 49, No.6, June 2009
This year marks the 120th anniversary of the jukebox, and of history's first music operator. Back in 1889, San Francisco saloon owner Louis Glass invented a music playback contraption that he called Nickel in the Slot. In the process, he also launched the amusement machine industry... by Marcus Webb
Author: Marcus Webb

The Great Digital Debate
Issue: Vol. 49, No.5, May 2009
Power House Vending recently announced a nationwide rental program featuring privately branded jukeboxes that run on the Ecast network. The principals say their goal is not to undermine the operator, but rather to use the tools available to digital jukeboxes in a new way. Are they right? by Marcus Webb
Author: Marcus Webb

EDITORIAL: How To Deliver Bad News
Issue: Vol. 49, No.4, April 2009
Even the most successful, experienced businesspeople often find one particular task daunting: delivering bad news. A veteran operator wrote to suggest that we provide an article on "the art of delivering bad news”... by Marcus Webb
Author: Marcus Webb

EDITORIAL: Information Deficit Disorder
Issue: Vol. 49, No.3, March 2009
It is an extremely odd fact that despite the flood of media, news and commentary that pummels Americans every day, we remain a dreadfully uninformed population. The amusement machine industry also suffers from Information Deficit Disorder... by Marcus Webb
Author: Marcus Webb

EDITORIAL: The Confidence Game
Issue: Vol. 49, No.2, February 2009
"Our economy is not a con game; it is a confidence game." So says Paul Volker, former chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve under presidents Carter and Reagan. Today, Volker chairs Barack Obama’s newly formed Economic Recovery Advisory Board. His description of the economy as a "confidence game" carries special lessons for an industry that is built on games (and music)... by Marcus Webb
Author: Marcus Webb

EDITORIAL: The Vanishing Quarter
Issue: Vol. 49, No.1, January 2009
Five real-life stories cast an interesting light on the future of coin purchases in the U.S. First story: I recently spoke to a young man who described a summer job working the counter at a mom-and-pop burger joint. One lesson he learned, he said, was that "men don’t carry change"...
by Marcus Webb
Author: Marcus Webb

EDITORIAL: Winter Is Coming
Issue: Vol. 48, No. 12, December 2008

The current economy reminds me of the story about a guy who moves to upstate Alaska…in July. Everybody warns him about the climate, but he figures he can handle it. When September arrives, temperatures drop to 10 degrees below zero. The guy is standing at a bus stop, all bundled up, shivering uncontrollably, teeth chattering...By Marcus Webb


Author: Marcus Webb

EDITORIAL: Business As (Un)usual
Issue: Vol. 48, No. 11, November 2008

“In times like these, it’s good to remember there have always been times like these.” That clever quip is irrelevant today. We have never seen times like these. As former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan testified to Congress in late October, we’re experiencing a “once-in-a-century” credit meltdown… By Marcus Webb


Author: Marcus Webb

EDITORIAL: Coin-Op Needs A ‘New Deal’
Issue: Vol. 48, No. 10, October 2008
As of this writing, Congress was busy passing a $700 billion economic rescue plan. By the time this issue mails, America will be 21 days from electing a new president. Also this year, “Web 2.0” – the user-generated, social-networked, collaborative model of the Internet – has quietly gone from controversy to consensus. Arguably, then, we’re looking at a fresh start… a “New Deal”… in New York City, Washington, DC, and Silicon Valley… By Marcus Webb
Author: Marcus Webb

EDITORIAL: The AMOA Story
Issue: Vol. 48, No. 9, September 2008

NEW YORK CITY (Sept. 2008) — Congratulations to the Amusement and Music Operators Association as it celebrates its 60th anniversary this month. AMOA packed so many personalities, issues and events into these six decades that it’s sometimes difficult to see the big picture. Accordingly, this column offers a succinct overview of “The AMOA Story"… by Marcus Webb


Author: Marcus Webb

EDITORIAL: The Great Temptation
Issue: Vol. 48, No. 8, August 2008

NE WYORK CITY (AUGUST 2008) — News came recently that Betson Enterprises and Incredible Technologies are once again working together. This development underscores an important fact about the amusement machine industry in 2008. For all its wrenching changes, this is still an industry where operators, distributors and manufacturers need each other… by Marcus Webb


Author: Marcus Webb

EDITORIAL: ‘One Show’ Debate Misses The Point
Issue: Vol. 48, No. 6, June 2008

The industry’s ongoing argument over “how many shows is the right number” has intensified lately. The whole debate reminds me of a key exchange from a classic war film. “The Battle of Britain” takes place in the summer of 1940. Nazi bombers are flying across the English Channel every day, bombing London to hell as part of the softening-up process before a planned German invasion… more by Marcus Webb


Author: Marcus Webb

EDITORIAL: ‘Happy Talk’ Versus Real Optimism
Issue: Vol. 48, No. 5, May 2008

Recently, VT columnist and vending pioneer Allan Gilbert described an operator who was depressed over the U.S. economy – and deeply worried about his own prospects (see VT, March). Gilbert pointed out that this operator’s company remained strong, with earnings and ROI well above national averages. The operator “was facing a crisis of confidence,” Gilbert concluded, not a true crisis of circumstance. Gilbert went on to say that tough times represent opportunities for savvy operators, who increase market share at the expense of less-competent, less-aggressive competitors.s...by: MARCUS WEBB


Author: Marcus Webb

EDITORIAL: Smoke-Free
Issue: Vol. 48, No. 4, April 2008
This month we survey the smoking scene in a comprehensive feature, including assessments by an experienced lobbyist and a tobacco company spokesman. In the ongoing war to ban – or permit – smoking in American taverns, there is good news and bad news...by MARCUS WEBB
Author: Marcus Webb

EDITORIAL: The ‘Can-Do’ Industry
Issue: Vol. 48, No.3, March 2008
The global amusements industry is not panicking, but it’s wearing a more worried face these days. From Tokyo to London – and from Bentonville, AR, to Columbus, OH – the first quarter of 2008 has not been reassuring. First, Sega and Namco announced they were closing 160 arcades in Japan and would lay off hundreds of personnel. Then London’s ATEI Show saw attendance plummet nearly 9%. Next, the president of the British trade association, BACTA, warned that as a result of the UK’s restrictive new national gaming regulations, “half of the [British amusements] industry could be out of business this year.”...By MARCUS WEBB
Author: Marcus Webb

EDITORIAL: Support Your Local Distributor
Issue: Vol. 48, No.2, February 2008
For several years I lived in a remote mountain region in California. The nearest gas station was one mile from my home; it charged 25% more per gallon than stations in the nearest city (which was a good 45 minute drive). The next closest gas stations were 10 miles away and 15 miles away, respectively. These lonely outposts near the Interstate still charged 15% above city prices...By MARCUS WEBB
Author: Marcus Webb

EDITORIAL: Deluxe Crystal Ball Edition
Issue: Vol. 47, No.12, December 2007
This issue contains our “Forecast 2008” feature story. Several leading operators go on the record to reveal what they see for next year and beyond. The piece also includes three momentous predictions made by informed sources who did not wish to have their names published. If you want an advance jump on what the entire industry will be talking about next year, be sure to read this story.... By MARCUS WEBB
Author: Marcus Webb

EDITORIAL: How To Kill An Industry
Issue: Vol. 47, No.11, November 2007
Imagine the following scenario:  Blue Skies Airlines launches a “whisper campaign” against its main rival, Happy Airways. Every time BSA talks to a potential customer, it says: “For goodness sake, don’t fly Happy Airways. They’re about to go out of business. You’ll be stuck with a worthless ticket.” Naturally, Happy Airways retaliates by spreading (equally baseless) rumors against BSA: “Don’t you know 5% of all their planes crash? Do you really want to take a 1-in-20 chance of going down?” …By MARCUS WEBB
Author: Marcus Webb

EDITORIAL: Can A Realist Also Be An Optimist?
Issue: Vol. 47, No.10, October 2007
Can a realist in the amusement machine industry also be an optimist? Absolutely. Meet Jim Turntine, CEO of Play-Mor Coin-Op and Wonder Novelty (Sullivan, MO). This industry will survive, and thrive, thanks to people like him. He is a calm and practical realist who looks conditions in the eye and calls things by their right names. At the same time, he is an optimist – but one who believes in creating his own opportunities…By MARCUS WEBB
Author: Marcus Webb

EDITORIAL: Rumble, Rumble
Issue: Vol. 47, No. 9, September 2007
If it feels like the ground is shifting under your feet, it is. Virtually everywhere you look in the coin-op amusements industry today, signs of significant change are becoming more and more obvious...By: MARCUS WEBB
Author: Marcus Webb

EDITORIAL: Warren Buffett, Amusement Operator
Issue: Vol. 47, No. 8, August 2007
Now, here is what you call a little-known fact. Billionaire Warren Buffett, the world’s third-richest man and one of the most successful investors of all time – the “Oracle of Omaha” – got his start as an amusement machine operator...MARCUS WEBB
Author: Marcus Webb

EDITORIAL: The High Cost Of Gray-Area Games
Issue: Vol. 40, No. 11 / August 25, 2000 - September 24, 2000
The amusements industry has a long and painful memory of being classed with illegal gambling. Twenty years ago, trade members began a lengthy, difficult and expensive process to persuade state and local authorities that cranes and redemption machines can be innocent games of skill. Today, the industry continues battling, for the most part successfully, to ensure that online skill-based tournaments are not lumped in with Internet casinos...By MARCUS WEBB
Author: Marcus Webb

EDITORIAL: The State Of The Tavern Market
Issue: Vol. 47, No. 5, May 2007
The U.S. tavern market can be described the same way Winston Churchill described democracy: it’s the “worst…except for all the others.” In city after city, and state after state, bars and taverns are under attack on all sides. Lawmakers pass stronger and stronger smoking bans. Urban renewal planners make fewer and fewer on-premise licenses available. Police and politicians institute ever-tougher DUI enforcement programs. MADD pushes for ever-stricter blood alcohol concentration standards. Traditional venues face growing competition from casino gambling, whether at a racetrack, resort or reservation...By MARCUS WEBB
Author: Marcus Webb

EDITORIAL: Bill Cravens Personified The Industry
Issue: Vol. 47, No. 4, April 2007
VT publisher Alicia Lavay-Kertes refers to the passing of industry icon Bill Cravens as “the end of an era.” It certainly feels that way. Cravens, an outsized personality who died in his sleep during last month’s Amusement Showcase International, personified the U.S. amusements industry in countless ways...By MARCUS WEBB
Author: Marcus Webb

EDITORIAL: Surprise! Industry Leaders Are Upbeat
Issue: Vol. 47, No. 3, March 2007
Don’t look now, but rainbows are breaking out in the most unexpected places – namely, in many top echelons of the amusements industry. Medium-sized traditional street operators like Charles Rowland of Games People Play (Richmond, VA) report they are in the strongest financial shape in their history. Giant FEC operators like American Family Entertainment Centers say their “Wal-Mart strategy” of building multi-use facilities in rural areas is working beautifully. In between, the leading chains of pizzerias with gamerooms are also doing landmark business across much of the country...By MARCUS WEBB
Author: Marcus Webb

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