BANDAI TO VEND MINIATURES IN U.S.
TOKYO -Bandai said it will sell its popular gashapon toys , miniature figures in plastic capsules , in the United States. According to news reports, the giant Japanese toy manufacturer, which holds the largest gashapon market share in Japan, had previously been unwilling to deploy its vending business in the U.S. because it lacked a secure operations model. However, its planned merger in September with Namco, which runs a nationwide amusement machine operation, will provide Bandai with U.S.-based facilities and distribution capabilities, the Mainichi Shimbun reported last week. The Bandai Group, regarded as the world's largest toy company, produces and sells toys, candy, apparel, films, music and animation. The company, which was founded in 1950, began its novelty vending division in 1977, which includes the manufacture of vending machines and the capsuled figurines and toys that go in them. "Capsule Station" venders, which are prolific throughout Asia, are supported annually by about two dozen new collections based on world-leading toy, film and video game properties; these items would most likely vend for $1 in the U.S. Bandai announced on May 5 plans to merge with Namco. Following approval by stockholders in both firms, expected this month, a joint stock company called Namco Bandai Holdings Inc. will be created on Sept. 29.
ILLINOIS GOVERNOR TO SIGN VIOLENT VIDEO BAN
SPRINGFIELD, IL , Gov. Rod Blagojevich has signaled his intent to sign HB 4023, the Safe Games Illinois Act, which passed the Illinois Assembly on Saturday, May 28, by a vote of 106 "yeas" to just 6 "nays." In March the bill passed the state Senate 91-19. HB 4023 does not explicitly mention coin-operated games, but does refer to game rentals, which could possibly be stretched to include coin-op amusements. The law bans the rental and sale of violent and sexually explicit video games to players under 18, while requiring retailers to post content labels and ratings explanations. Violations can trigger a $1,000 fine. Similar laws have been struck down on constitutional grounds by courts in Indianapolis and Washington state.
ECAST EXPANDS SERVICE SCHOOL ITINERARY
U.S.A. , Service schools for Ecast-powered jukeboxes from Rock-Ola, NSM and View Interactive , 11 models in all , are now on tap for the following cities this month. Boston, June 20, 3:00 PM to 8:00 PM at the Courtyard Marriott, 300 River Ridge Drive, Norwood, MA, tel. (781) 762.4700, near the NECO (New England Coin-Op) office; Fort Lee, NJ, June 21, 4:00 PM to 9:00 PM at the Fort Lee Hilton, 2117 Rte. 4 East, tel. (201) 461-9000 (suitable for New York operators since it's just over the George Washington Bridge); Philadelphia, June 22, 3:00 PM to 8:00 PM, Ace Center, 800 Ridge Pike-Lafayette Hill, PA, tel. (610) 825-8000; Baltimore, June 23, 3:00 PM to 8:00 PM, Marriott Baltimore Inner Harbor at Camden Yards, 110 South Eutaw St., tel. (410) 962.0202. Ecast's Mary Conley will provide individual training on how to use the "Ecast Central" website. Food and refreshments will be served. Operators may reserve seats by e-mailing EcastInvasion@ecastinc.com or calling Conley at (415) 277-3543.
ALMOST 10% MORE POOL PLAYERS COMPETE AT VNEA'S SUCCESSFUL SILVER ANNIVERSARY FINALS
LAS VEGAS , The 25th Anniversary Valley National Eight Ball Association International Pool Championships took place at the Riviera Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, NV, from May 26 to June 4. Some 5,300 players from the U.S. and overseas , nearly 10% more than the 2004 event , competed for more than $600,000 in prize money on almost 300 Valley "Great Eight" pool tables. A Bayliner 175 speedboat was awarded to Spain's David Lopez, winner of the SpeedPool contest, by Valley-Dynamo president Jay Scanland. The VNEA Warren Kelly Meritorious Service Award was presented to Dave Courington of Valley-Dynamo; a special reception honored outgoing VNEA president Jerry Derrick, who also is an AMOA past-president.
FROM LONDON TO BUDAPEST: NAMES IN THE NEWS
Merit Industries has named Javier Lanfranchi international sales manager; he is based Merit's London office' Paul Gauselmann, head of the Gauselmann Group, was unanimously reelected chairman of the German national coin-op amusements trade association, VDAI, for two more years' Frank Seninsky of Alpha-Omega Amusements (E. Brunswick, NJ) keynoted in mid-May the annual conference of Euromat, the Brussels-based umbrella organization of more than a dozen European trade groups. Seninsky predicted that within a decade, Europe's gambling market could evolve to resemble that of the U.S. (that is, casino-dominated and less friendly to small amusement operators).
2005 Q1 SEES DOUBLE-DIGIT EARNINGS HIKE FOR DAVE & BUSTER'S
DALLAS , Dave & Buster's said its first quarter revenue soared 21.9% to $115.7 million on strong performances in its two main business areas. The restaurant/arcade chain reported a 25.2% increase in its food and beverage sales and an18.3% improvement for its amusements operations. Revenue from comparable stores decreased 1.7% for the quarter, which ended May 1. EBITDA increased to $18.7 million, or 23%, over last year's figures; net income for the quarter was $4.6 million, up 27.5% from $3.6 million compared with the same period last year. Executives said figures reflected one-time costs for integrating Jillians' stores into the chain.
TLC TEAMS WITH AMERICAN POOLPLAYERS TO BOOST 'POWERBALL BILLIARDS' VIDEO
SCHAUMBURG, IL , American Poolplayers Association has endorsed TLC Industries' "PowerBall Billiards" as the "official video pool game" of the 250,000-member organization. TLC marketing director James Hills said the backing will help reposition pool games from arcades to bars and pool boutiques where a natural audience awaits. "PowerBall Billiards" will be featured at the APA's annual National Team Championships from August 18 through 27 at the Riviera Hotel (Las Vegas). Go to http://www.PowerBallBilliards.com for more information.
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