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COIN-OP NEWS: AMOA-NY Honors Maas; Calif. Videogame Law Suffers Decisive Blow; Minn. Lawmaker Proposes Video Slots For Bars, Airport

Posted On: 3/3/2009

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Coin-Op, Vending, Videogames, Video, Amusements, Video Slots, Vending Operators, New York, Ken Goldberg, Mike Maas, Rowe, Merit, AMI Entertainment

AMOA-NY Awards Mike Maas Its Highest Honor

NEW YORK CITY -- The Amusement and Music Owners Association of New York this week presented its highest honor to Michael G. Maas, president and chief executive of AMI Entertainment, Merit Entertainment and Rowe International. AMOA-NY president Ken Goldberg conferred the 2008 Man of the Year award to Maas during a gala dinner ceremony here on Feb. 23.

Past recipients of the award are Firestone Financial chief executive David Cohen (2007), and top management from the Betson organization: Kevin Fritz (2006), Bob Geschine (2005) and Rick Kirby (2004). Area operators and distributors and suppliers from around the nation attended this year's event. About a half dozen New York City councilmembers made an appearance and a round of speeches praising the coin-op industry. Councilman David Weprin (D-23rd district, Queens) presented a city proclamation honoring Maas.

"I believe I am speaking for my fellow operators when I say in the times that I have been in Mike's company, there is a motivated energy that emanates from him," Goldberg said in a presentation speech. "He is willing to tackle and confront the economic challenges that affect operators."

Maas, who joined the group of companies in 2007, is the architect of a business model that is seeking to improve the integration of coin-op products and wider applications - jukebox and videogame content, networking services, public-space hardware and TV screens. He is a former executive of Microsoft and IBM.

PHOTO (l.-r.): Tony Elefante, Ralph Elefante Inc. (Brooklyn); Joe Bossolina, McGee Amusement (Ridgefield, NJ); Allen Weisberg, Apple Amusements Inc. (Bronx); Michael Maas; Ken Goldberg, PLK Vending (Woodside, NY).

Appeals Court Kills California Videogame Content Law

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Feb. 20 dealt what might be the final, fatal blow to a California state law banning sale or rental of "violent" videogames to minors. Originally passed in 2005, the law was never enforced because a Superior Court issued an injunction against it in December 2005. After a full trial at the Superior Court level, judges ruled it unconstitutional in 2007. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger directed his attorney general to appeal the verdict.

This month's ruling is the result of the hearing that followed Schwarzenegger's appeal. The law is now dead unless California files for, and receives, a review by the U.S. Supreme Court -- which is highly unlikely given the legal history of such bans.

Since 2001, half a dozen cities or states have passed comparable laws only to see them struck down as unconstitutional by every federal court and appeals court that heard arguments on the matter.

Despite this unpromising background, the sponsor of the original bill -- State Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) -- said this week he would ask California's attorney general to file precisely such an appeal to America's highest court.

Following the Feb. 20 verdict, Bo Andersen, president and chief executive of the Entertainment Merchants Association, one of the victorious plaintiffs in the case, estimated that California "wasted ... at least $283,000 at last count, on this ill-advised, and ultimately doomed attempt at state-sponsored nannyism."

Minnesota Lawmaker Proposes Video Slots For Bars, Airport

ST. PAUL, MN -- A member of Minnesota's senate has introduced a bill that would permit operators to run video slot machines in the state's 3,200 taverns, and at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Sen. Chuck Wiger (DFL-Maplewood) claimed tax proceeds from a legal slot market would bring Minnesota more than $1 billion annually.

Revenue from slots would be dedicated to fund schools and help military veterans. Minnesota faces a deficit of almost $5 billion.

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat, made a similar proposal this month to legalize video pokers in the Keystone State to help close that state's budget deficit.