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Issue Date: Vol. 51, No. 5, May 2011, Posted On: 4/24/2011

New $1 Coin Lobby Spends $250K - But Coin-Op Industry Stays On Sidelines, This Time

Marcus Webb
Dollar Coin Alliance, dollar coin, $1 coin, Roll Call, Amusement and Music Operators Association, American Amusement Machine Association, National Automatic Merchandisers Association, John Schultz, vending, vending machine, coin machine, amusement business, coin-op news, cashless vending

WASHINGTON -- The Dollar Coin Alliance, formed in December of 2010, has already spent $250,000 lobbying Congress to kill the $1 banknote in favor of exclusive reliance on the $1 coin, according to a recent story in Roll Call, a newspaper that covers Congress.

On its website, the DCA describes itself as "a coalition of small businesses, mass transit agencies, budget watchdogs, trade associations and private companies."

Absent from the DCA membership list are the Amusement and Music Operators Association, the American Amusement Machine Association and the National Automatic Merchandisers Association.

Roll Call quoted AAMA president John Schultz as saying that he doubted the manufacturer and distributor group would devote any additional resources in attempts to promote the $1 coin or eliminate the $1 bill.

"Thirty years we've been working on this and thrown a tremendous amount of money to it. Its time has passed," Shultz told the paper.

Growing elements of the amusement and music industry are bypassing hard currency altogether, including both paper and coins, in favor of credit and debit cards and other forms of cashless vending and electronic payment. In the view of many industry members, this is where the trade's future lies. Separately, the American merchandise vending industry continues to advance the cashless payment space. NAMA now offers its own cashless program in partnership with Bank of America Merchant Services.

In contrast, DCA officials said they believe conditions for the demise of the dollar bill are more promising today than at any time in recent years.

Favorable factors include a recent study from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, affirming the potential cost savings that could result from making the switch. (The GAO has done several $1 coin cost-savings studies, which offer the same suggestions.) | SEE STORY

Another important factor that has swung the political balance more in favor of dropping the $1 bill is the November 2010 Republican takeover of the House of Representatives. As a result, the House Finance Committee -- which would have to approve any bill to eliminate the George Washington banknote -- is no longer chaired by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA).

Frank's state of Massachusetts is home to the nation's chief currency paper manufacturer. Frank and his constituents were and are strong defenders of continued printing and use of paper money including dollar bills.

Shawn Smeallie, a former aide to President George H.W. Bush and a lobbyist at the American Continental Group, heads the DCA's campaign. Smeallie told the Capitol Hill newspaper that he expects a bill to be introduced into the House Finance Committee soon that will eliminate the dollar note.

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