Sept. 6, 2005: AAMA Intends Long-Term Hurricane Relief Plan; Gulf Coast Trade Members Check In, Slowly; Ecast Backs U.S. Consent Decree Regarding NSM; Merit Changes Company Name

Posted On: 9/6/2005

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AAMA Gears Up For Long-Term Hurricane Victim Assistance

CHICAGO - The American Amusement Machine Charitable Foundation held an emergency conference call on Friday, Sept. 2, to discuss what the organization could do to help trade members in dire need of assistance following Hurricane Katrina. AAMCF members concluded that the expected years-long recovery can best be assisted through a long-term plan, which AAMCF intends to put into effect in concert with its parent association, AAMA. Boards of both groups will teleconference this coming Friday; further details will be announced as available. Meanwhile, AAMCF and AAMA leaders said: "Our hearts and prayers go out to all those who have lost so much. Such devastation is incomprehensible and at a time like this, we must come together as a people and as an industry to do all we can for those who are suffering from Katrina and her aftermath."

Gulf Coast Storm Survivors Begin To Check In

U.S.A. , One week after Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, a mix of determination, optimism and fatalism is being voiced by operators, distributors, suppliers and trade press members who were impacted by the storm as they check in with industry friends and colleagues. Play Meter magazine editor in chief Valerie Cognevich made contact by cell phone on her way to her parents' home in Virginia; managing editor Bonnie Theard is at a Chicago hotel and the rest of the publication's staff is reportedly safe and sound. AMOA and AAMA officials alike say they have yet to hear from the Boasberg family (New Orleans Novelty Co.). According to an online bulletin board created by the Amusement and Music Operators Association, Donovan Fremin of Delta Music (Thibodaux, LA) has reported "minimal damage to [his route's] locations and properties," but added: "Everything is at a standstill. No electricity, fuel is difficult to get and there is a shortage of food and water. I believe my area will be somewhat back to normal soon." But Fremin quickly added that New Orleans, Troy, and elsewhere were far worse off. David Goudeau of Southland Distributors said his hometown of Lafayette, LA is taking in "a flood of refugees." He and other industry members have stated that conditions in New Orleans are worse than the news media are showing. Dolores Bergeron, general manager of Plush Appeal (New Orleans) reported last week that the company "is under water right now... The business is a total loss." But she added that fresh stock was en route and that executives were searching for a new warehouse. She declared: "We may be down but we are not out! We are survivors." Although Plush Appeal will not exhibit at AMOA Expo next week, it expects to have a new address soon. In the meantime, the company may be contacted by e-mailing to

Ecast Backs Consent Decree To Ensure Market Fairness, Legality

SAN FRANCISCO , Ecast Inc. has agreed to a consent decree recommended by the U.S. Department of Justice in regard to its contract with NSM Music to provide a digital jukebox platform and content to the American market, according to Ecast vice-president of marketing Marlin Gilbert. In a government statement released on Sept. 2, the DOJ had objected to a non-compete clause in the original Ecast-NSM contract that stipulated NSM would not bring in its own digital downloading platform to the U.S. market, once it became a partner of Ecast. That clause will now be dropped. In addition, Ecast will take specific steps outlined by DOJ officials to ensure market fairness and full compliance with anti-trust laws in the future. NSM executives said the company would have a comment on this issue Wednesday; the British-based manufacturer is likewise expected to support the consent decree. The DOJ's Antitrust Division also filed a civil lawsuit on Sept. 2 in connection with the anti-trust charges; however, this is regarded largely as a formality. The suit is expected to be dropped as soon as Ecast and NSM formally signal their intent to comply with terms of the consent decree. Also standard for such cases, the proposed consent decree, along with the DOJ's competitive impact statement, will be published in the U.S. Federal Register. Anyone may submit written comments concerning the proposed decree during a 60-day comment period.

Merit Industries Is Now Merit Entertainment

BENSALEM, PA , Merit Industries Inc. has changed its brand name to Merit Entertainment, which officials said better reflects the company's "ongoing commitment to provide the freshest and most up-to-date in coin-operated entertainment." Bob Mills, vice-president of network business and marketing, pointed to various new U.S. and foreign-focused product launches and marketing initiatives that show Merit has "broadened [its] product base to suit a global entertainment strategy." A new multi-game track ball system, along with expanded game menus and MegaNET network services, will be displayed at the company's AMOA International Expo exhibit next week in the Las Vegas Convention Center.