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February 2016

Items In This Month's News Digest

American Vending Sales Buys Lieberman Distributing

The year 2016 kicked off with a great big “wow!” on Jan. 5 when Chicagoland’s Ameri­can Vending Sales announced its purchase of the long-established distributing arm of the Lieberman Companies. Lieber­man will continue to own and operate its other businesses that include its Ameri­can Amuse­ment Arcades route (headed by Tim Zahn), its large ATM ISO division and its eight Elsie’s Place gaming-themed restaurants in Illinois.

The new AVS branch will remain in Lieberman’s Bloom­ington, Minn., building and veterans Linda Winstead and Kurk Johnson will continue to head up sales efforts in amusements and vending respectively. AVS is also keeping the technical and parts staffers that supported them.

AVS President Vince Gumma said: “Things should be business as usual for Lieberman customers. Our goal is a seamless transition. Both of our companies share a similar philosophy in the way they treat employees and customers and our goal is to maintain the level of service that Lieberman has been known for,” he added.

In today’s coin machine industry, most full line distributors like AVS and Lieberman can deliver basically the same machine brands as the other, but there are exceptions. For example, AVS is one of TouchTunes’ more prominent dealers while Lieberman has represented Rowe AMI for many years. Specific details on what will happen in this regard remain to be released.

Hal Lieberman (current President of the family combine) advised: “I’ve known Vince Gumma for a long time and when we were looking to divest our distribution arm, in my mind he was the ideal buyer.” Hal and his brother Dan have been running the company since their father Steve and Uncle David turned over the reins back in 2007.

The company itself was founded in 1907 by Samuel Lieberman as a legal slot machine and mint vending route called Twin City Novelty. His son Harold brought the family organization into distributing in 1948 which he called the Lieberman Music Co. and which not only sold jukeboxes and games into the Upper Midwest territory but phonograph records on the retail level as well. He also founded their vending distributorship called Viking Vending.

Their dealings in records, called “rack jobbing” back in the day and which became huge as the years went along, has been discontinued for years. After Harold Lieber­man’s passing, his son Steve took over the coin-op activities and his other son David the record distribution.

AVS Rising

American Vending Sales, with headquarters in Elk Grove Village, Ill., was founded by a vending operator named Frank Gumma in 1971 with, as the story goes, “no capital, four children at home and a mortgage.” A small bank loan, and another loan from a friend, helped get the business started at a storefront on North Cicero Avenue in the Windy City.

By 1973, Frank had paid back his bank and personal loans, and bought the first AVS building in Elk Grove Village. They were the first distributor to move out to the Chicago suburbs and would be followed in due course by Atlas, Empire-Bally and World Wide Distributors.

Gumma started out by handling vending machinery; games didn’t become a major part of AVS’s activities until 1986 when they acquired the Bally Midwest Distributing office there. They eventually bought World Wide as well. Some years ago, they opened branches in both Springfield, Ill., and Clifton, N.J., but both were eventually closed.

As is well known, AVS today is led by Frank’s son Vince, who also owns a stake in the organization while his father (a winner of both AAMA’s and ICMOA’s Life­time Achieve­ment Awards) enjoys a well-deserved retirement in Florida with his wife Meli.

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AMA to Rep TouchTunes In Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas & Mississippi

TouchTunes announced that Louisiana-based AMA Distributors will now market its interactive digital jukebox throughout several southern states. To celebrate, the factory hosted an open house at AMA’s HQ in Metairie, La., on Dec. 10. Personnel from both AMA and TouchTunes were on hand, along with food, drinks and door prizes. As an added bonus to thank operators, TouchTunes gave attendees a $250 coupon toward a purchase of a new jukebox.

“At AMA, we strive to do our very best and offer the best products. We couldn’t be any more excited about teaming up with TouchTunes,” said AMA GM Keith Beba. “TouchTunes is on the cutting edge of interactive digital music and entertainment; and, that’s exactly what we want to offer our customers.”

“At TouchTunes, we pride ourselves on having the best network of operators and distributors in the industry. That’s why we are so pleased to announce that AMA Distributors has joined our team and is distributing and servicing TouchTunes products,” said Phil Cohn, TouchTunes EVP of Sales and Marketing. “Their years of experience in bringing innovative products to the industry, coupled with their dedication to customer service, makes this a great alliance. We look forward to working with them for many years to come.”

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Betson Opens N.C. Vending Office

Betson Enterprises, a division of H. Betti Industries Inc., has opened a new vending machine reconditioning and distribution center in Charlotte, N.C. Serving as its primary vending facility, the company says the new 12,000-sq.-ft. office will allow them to better service their customers and handle anticipated growth in that sector.

“We look forward to expanding our sales efforts into an already established Southeastern vending market, as well as serving our current customer base better out of this dedicated facility,” said Chris­topher Betti, Betson’s National Vending Sales Manager.

The new branch is located at the former location of Choice Equipment Sales Inc., a longtime vending machine refurbishing specialist, at 2701 Hutchinson McDonald Road, Suite M. For more information, contact Christopher Betti at 201/806-7728 or email him at cbetti@betson.com.

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Brokerhouse Buys Laniel Canada

Brokerhouse Distributing has acquired Laniel Canada and its subsidiary company BBC Sales in what amounts to one of the biggest “consolidations” of North American coin-op dealerships in recent memory. Brokerhouse, primarily a vending and coffee service dealer, was already affiliated with André Labbee and Vending Products of Canada.

Said Brokerhouse President Jeff Suitor: “We are moving ahead to integrate all our supplier partners into one source of supply. Our goal is to seamlessly merge the newly acquired businesses into our existing equipment, parts and service portfolio. We’ve already made our first transition by moving BBC sales over to our existing location at 108 Woodbine Downs Boulevard in Toronto,” he advised.

As a result of the purchase, Brokerhouse bolstered its already impressive product lines by adding Newco, WMF, Franke, 3M, Everpure, 3-Square and more. “We are excited about the future and want to be every operator’s one-stop shop for all OCS, vending and food service hardware and related products,” Suitor declared.

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Wahlap USA Dealer Named

Veteran Florida-based coin machine exporter Javier de la Uz (Global Amuse­ments) has made a deal with Wahlap of China to represent their amusement games in America. The new organization is called Wahlap Entertainment USA, Inc. and operates from Global’s HQ in St. Augustine (phone: 904-429-7783). Javier advised that Curtis Herdon has been hired to help market the product. The Chinese manufacturer’s games were previously handled by industry long-timers Gene Lipkin and Frank Ballouz.

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CEMA Hires SacramentoLobbyist

The California Entertain­ment Machine Assn. (CEMA) has recently hired the services of Jarhett Blonien of Blonien & Associates Law Office to serve as the group’s legislative counsel. The CEMA hopes that Jarhett will provide legislative advice and monitor relevant state laws on their behalf.

“Blonien & Associates brings not only extensive experience in working at the state house in Sacramento,” said CEMA President Michael Martinez. “They were at the forefront of gaming law in California, and have continued to be a dedicated ally for gaming businesses. This experience made it easy for them to understand the unique needs and challenges for CEMA members and their businesses.”

At presstime, Jarhett was set to address CEMA members at the association’s third annual Spotlight Show on Feb. 4 in La Mirada, Calif.

Blonien & Associates is a full-service government law and lobbying firm that has represented local governments, corporations, trade associations and many other entities before California’s legislature and governor’s office.

Rod Blonien, the firm’s founder and Jarhett’s father, was a key player in the development of California’s first set of comprehensive gaming regulations, which later became the Gambling Control Act. Prior to joining the family firm, Jarhett worked in the California Department of Justice as a Deputy Attorney General.

More information on the California operator group can be found at www.thecema.com.

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Florida Gaming Moves? The Answer is Not Now (or Yet)

We heard a rumor flying around that Florida might go the way of Illinois regarding operator-involved video gaming. So we contacted their association’s prexy A.J. Kress and believe we found the root of the rumor. It appears their governor is signing a “compact” with the Native Americans that will give them exclusive rights to operate slots and table games. In exchange, there is a carve-out for existing operators of parimutuels and dog tracks. One of the dog tracks is owned by State Senator Rooney. It’s on land next to the Palm Beach airport. They want to build a tram from the airport to the track when it all gets approved. If the name Rooney sounds familiar, it’s because his family owns, among other things, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Sorry, guys, not yet.

There has been other activity on the Florida gaming front of late, though. Recently, the 184-page Senate Bill 1198 was filed in Florida by Senator Maria Sachs, a Democrat from Delray Beach. The bill would create a state gaming commission made up of five people appointed by the governor, one of whom would have experience in the gaming industry. This is Sachs’ second attempt to pass a bill like this and if passed, it would take effect in July of this year.

Under the bill, the Department of Gaming would be able to make, amend and repeal rules relating to gaming operations, as well as enforce those rules and collect tax revenue from gambling establishments. Taxes from many of these establishments come from slot machines, betting, card rooms and live events and make the state hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

Opponents of the bill wonder whether it’s justified to call for a new governmental department to handle these taxes when there has been no outcry about the current handling, under the current regulations. Proponents argue that Florida is the fourth largest gaming state in the country and needs increased regulations in order to maintain the profitability and legitimacy of that industry.

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ENADA Springs Forward in March

Organizers of the three-day Italy ENADA Spring International Amusement & Gaming Machine Show ­­­­–– set for March 16-18 –– say they are dedicated to hosting an innovative and complete exhibition for the entire industry, especially since it comes at time of renewal in the trade. Rimini Fiera and the Italian trade group SAPAR put on the show with support from Euromat (the European Gaming and Amusement Federation).

The showcase will include a slew of experts and equipment from key players in the amusement sector, manufacturers, distributors of complete machines and parts, new slot and online gaming machines and kiddie rides. Last year the show drew over 25,000 people, and planners expect more to make it to the 2016 event.

Beyond the exhibits, debates, educational seminars and plenty of networking events will complement ENADA Spring. Organizers emphasize that ample space and time will also be dedicated to supporting and promoting responsible gaming.

Rimini Fiera Chairman Lorenzo Cagnoni said, “Every trade expo is an opportunity to show the sector’s innovative ability. For the coin-op machine sector, this is a fundamental historical moment. But, to come through the negative situation, it is necessary to have confidence in the future and ENADA Rome offers itself as the driving force for this recovery of confidence.”

For more information, visit www.enadaprimavera.it.

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New Kiosk Entry System from American Changer

Among the many new products and services introduced at the recent IAAPA Expo was American Changer’s Self-Serve Smart Card System, which provides fair and amusement attraction operators (that serve large numbers of customers) with a modestly-priced entry solution without the necessity of installing a complex hard-wired system. “This is a flexible, lower-cost alternative for those who wish to automate their operations for purchasing and redeeming goods and services,” the company advised showgoers.

For more information, visit www.americanchanger.com.

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Sega’s Latest Sonic Games Blast to Market

Sega Amusements Interna­tional has started shipping its Sonic Blast Ball redemption game and its Sonic Dash Ex­treme video ticket redemption game. Both debuted at IAAPA.

In Sonic Blast Ball, the game begins with a red ball rocketing around the perimeter of the vertical playfield, pushed forward by a cushion of air. Players must press the large “Blast Ball” button to open a series of mechanical gates at the top of the playfield, dropping the ball into multi-value holes in order to score tickets. If the player times it right, they can hit a side-to-side moving target that awards them more tickets with a spin on the game’s Jackpot Wheel.

“Gameplay is intuitive and fast paced resulting in an exhilarating experience that’s easily understood yet tantalizingly difficult to master,” said Sega Sr. Sales Mgr. Vince Moreno.

Sonic Dash Extreme asks players to go on a high-speed, ring-collecting mission on a track filled with dangerous obstacles. The more rings the player can grab and hold on to, the more tickets they win. Once players reach the goal at the end, they fight for a jackpot bonus against Sonic’s nemesis, Dr. Eggman.

The machine has a 55” monitor that displays the characters, colors and three different worlds in the game with life-sized and immersive brilliance. Players control the action with a huge, LED-lit version of a home console directional pad. Nine familiar characters from the Sonic franchise are in the game, as well.

To see Sega’s Sonic games, watch visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2OOjBfDvH2s.

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Lipkin Inks WIK Deal

Industry veteran Gene Lipkin has announced his formation of WIK U.S.A. as exclusive North and South America importers of this long-established Polish manufacturer’s air hockeys, basketballs, kiddie rides and other coin-op amusement products.

He has already opened offices at 110 North Atlantic Drive in Lantana, Florida and advises having a complete inventory of WIK machines along with administrative and marketing services underway. Call 561/232-2996 or visit www.wikusa.com.

WIK ZO.O has been in business overseas for 22 years, maintains its factory in Kostkowice, Poland, and reports turning out approximately 1,500 air hockey tables annually (50% of the European market share in this product). They also operate and distribute theirs and other product lines on the Continent.

Lipkin (a former president of Atari) reports that his outlet maintains 12 different air hockey models (both indoor and outdoor versions), as well as basketball cages in regulation and kid sizes, a soon-to-come ball roll alley called Roll and Jump and a small-sized kiddie ride called Dino Rider. Some of these products are already at a warehouse in Miami, he adds.

“What we’re doing is very simple. We’re introducing a top amusement line to our markets and are already starting to establish both distribution, as well as factory-direct accounts,” he declared.

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It’s Safety First at Zone

 If you’re looking for a way to ensure safety in your laser tag attraction, then you might want to look into Zone Laser Tag’s new Laser Tag Safety Document. Company VP Erik Guthrie said the manual was inspired by three specific concerns: Whether laser tag and pacemakers can mix, whether pregnant women should play and whether the lasers used can be harmful to the human eye.

Based on those individual questions, the company prepared a draft of this safety document and then reached out to several federal agencies to gather evidence. Finally, they contacted major insurance companies that work with 300 of their laser tag system operators to look at loss runs and claims.

The company said, “By investing into this document, our goal is to ensure that Zone Laser Tag operators run the safest laser tag experience in the industry.”

For more, visit www.lasertag.com or call 866-966-3797.

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Spider-Man Pin Swings Back From Stern’s Vault

Spider-Man returns from Stern Pinball in a rebooted version of their original pingame released in 2007. This new version embraces the bright and modern feel of the Ultimate Spider-Man comics with compelling, hand-drawn graphics to pull the players in as well as new animation and sound to keep them enticed. The game began shipping at the end of January.

The new iteration of this pin will feature the same gameplay as the original, with new cabinet art, back glass, decals and playfield plastics. There will also be custom-molded toys specifically designed to capture the recognizable style of Ultimate Spider-Man. The dot matrix video art will feature action packed animations rendered in the comic-book style.

Stern has also focused on increasing the durability of this table. The pin will have steel plastic protectors, playfield protectors at key points, stainless steel ball guides, optimizations to the design of the anti-ball trap plastics and improved ramp mounting details. Full LED playfield lighting illuminates the action with a modern feel.

“Spider-Man is one of Marvel’s most popular characters worldwide. Our goal was to take one of our most popular games and make it even better,” said Gary Stern, Chairman and CEO of Stern Pinball, Inc. “Stern Pinball and Marvel Studios share a love for the characters in the Spider-Man universe and have a long, successful history of collaboration. This is a great pinball interpretation of the adventures of Spider-Man.”

The Vault Edition will cost $7,595 (without sales tax) and will be available through authorized distributors and dealers around the world. For more information on Stern Pinball, visit: www.sternpinball.com.

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Valley-Dynamo Shipping Black Hole Hockey

The new Black Hole air hockey table takes everything Valley/Dynamo is well known for in the table game business and adds even more. It’s built with many different people in mind, with features that will appeal to the competitive crowd, the kids, the street operator and the FEC owner.

The biggest addition is its two cameras and two monitors that face each player in order to record instant replays of every point scored. This allows the scorer a moment to gloat while his opponent wallows in the shame of his shabby defense. Each side also has an air vent that, as another reward, sends a puff of cool air toward any player who scores a point. The game comes default set to five points or five minutes of playtime, and the ability to see each winning shot adds a unique twist.

Some of the practical features are just as appealing. Valley/Dynamo designed Black Hole so all the electronics and hardware are easily accessed from the ends of the game, instead of from the sides –– as is traditionally done. This allows for FEC operators to place several games in a row, saving on floor space and building a close space for competitive and fun play.

The factory explains that the game is ergonomically built for easy moving, with folding legs that nestle its scoreboard beneath the machine, so it can fit easily through any door as one package.

Finally, the game’s flashy attract mode and LED-strip lighting offer a pretty package. There are sensors in the sides of the playfield that detect when the puck hits, lighting up the LED-strip lights and setting off a fun sound effect.

For more information, visit www.vdlp.net.

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In the Nick of Time

Gaming machine exporter Mireille Chevalier has taken over Casino Glass & Parts Worldwide of Las Vegas, a prominent outlet for used slot and 8-liner parts for brands like Bally, Aristocrat, IGT, Konami and Atronic. When we chatted with the former Atarian, we learned Mireille and her 88-year-old mother left Paris on a flight for the States one day before the terrorist atrocity that shocked the world. “The city is still trying to sort through this awful event,” she told us after talking with some friends there.

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Raw Thrills and Play Mechanix Toast 2015 & Welcome New Year in Style

George Petro of Play Mechanix, Inc. and Eugene Jarvis of Raw Thrills welcomed their respective teams, business associates, friends and families to Chicago to ring in 2016. The group gathered at the Chop Shop for a party that included a Big Buck Hunter replica made entirely of ice, illustrating the two studio’s consistent cooperation on that very popular game.

Both studios had successful years, with Play Mechanix celebrating its 20th anniversary of arcade game design and Raw Thrills launching Jurassic Park Arcade and MotoGP. The Play Mechanix team took time at the party to individually award pioneers and key players who have contributed to their successes over two decades in the industry.

The allied companies have proven repeatedly that there is a space for innovative ideas in the arcade and amusement industry. They consistently deliver those ideas from drawing board to show room floor.

However, the party was about more than a business meeting. It was a way for the companies to remember a great year and ensure that they are ready to charge forward into yet another.

“Gathering the entire Raw Thrills/Play Mechanix family together for this event was truly special and a testament to our dedication to the arcade video game industry,” said Petro.

Jarvis added: “It is such an exciting time in entertainment and we are accelerating our development of new and compelling concepts for 2016 and onward. Let the games begin!”

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C2C’s Colorful Fun Zone Crane Now Shipping

Coast to Coast Entertainment wasted no time getting rolling in the new year. Fun Zone, its brilliant, color-changing 36-inch crane, began shipping in January and the company says many operators are excited about the new look and feel of the crane.

“Our new licensed, front-color-changing crane was a hit at the IAAPA show and our first containers are arriving the first week of January,” said “Jimmy Chaps” Chapman of C2C. “The look –– with over 256 colors and nine different patterns ­­–– sets this crane apart from it competition.”

Many operators have compared the crane’s eye-catching design to a retail front, drawing in skeptical customers with bright, fun and inviting colors. The firm says its color changing capabilities will set it apart in a crowded FEC and make it pop on a street route.

“The 36-inch size makes a difference in several ways. The stance allows the crane to be filled with more products, expanding its income capability each week,” said Chaps.

Reach out to your local distributor to secure your Fun Zone crane or contact Jimmy for referral at 800-224-1717 ext. 726 (email jimmy@coastentertainment.com. To see a video of this crane visit: www.cranemachines.com.

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AMI Offers Insightful Charts

AMI Entertainment released their annual music charts showing 2015’s most popular songs, artists and music videos. The company’s jukes play millions of songs in tens of thousands of locations across the U.S., which offers them a unique insight into music trends and what people want.

Over 11,250 albums were added to the company’s digital network over the past year. The most popular genres played were rock (37%), country (20%) and hip-hop (16%).

As far as new music, artist The Weeknd made a huge splash with three hits this year – Can’t Feel My Face, Earned It and The Hills –– all of which were featured on AMI’s Top 20 New Songs. Other popular artists were country-crooner Luke Bryan, indelible pop-star Rihanna and the spitfire female rapper Nicki Minaj.

This year also allowed AMI to track a newer feature: music video viewing. AMI Continental music video jukeboxes allow patrons to jam to their favorite videos, and in 2015 it was a very popular feature. The most viewed video was Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ jazzy, pop hit Uptown Funk, followed by Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines.

For more information on the company, go to www.amientertainment.com.

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MCM Elements Produces Cool Promo Video

MCM Elements has been a growing name since it debuted in 2011, named RoutExcel then. Recently, the company explains it has entered a new phase of marketing, prompted by their growing popularity with amusement/ATM route owners.

MCM focuses on software that is developed to serve route operators. A new promo video describes their Route Boost app, which is available on smart phone or tablet. The app helps route operators manage collections, service calls and swaps all in real time on several devices. Instead of the old-fashioned paper receipts operators would use to collect a location, they can use their iPad or smart phone instead, instantly eliminating hassles and saving time. The company charges a monthly fee, and there are no upfront costs for the program.

The company also has two other apps: Golden Tee League Manager and Cash Keeper. The former is endorsed by Incredible Technologies, maker of the popular video golf franchise and is designed to implement and operate league games. Cash Keeper is a management app that is specifically for ATM operators.

For more information on the company, visit their website at www.mcmelements.com. You can also view the promotional video for their Route Boost app at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSNqJfzoJWM.

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Apple Unveils New Revenue Stream For Its Photo Booth Operators

Beginning early this year, operators of Apple/ Face Place photo booths will have a new opportunity to increase earnings. The company’s new product fulfillment program, debuted at the IAAPA show, will offer customers the option to purchase customized coffee mugs, key chains, thermoses, tote bags, phone cases, picture frames and more directly from the booth where they just took their photo. Operators don’t need to do anything extra to benefit from this new revenue stream, except to sign up and complete some paperwork.

It works like this: After the customer has paid the standard vend price for their printed photos, they are offered several upsell opportunities, including the option to instantly post their photo to social media (Face­book, Twitter, Instagram) and now the option to order products emblazoned with their photo. The company suggests that operators vend these products in the $20 range, which would give them a solid profit margin on the $5-$7 wholesale product cost.

This idea is backed up by an email-marketing program which reminds Face Place customers that photo-customized products make great gifts. The customer decides shipping options in the booth, directly after they have taken their photo, and the product they order is created and shipped. Operators simply collect the profits while their customers get to enjoy incredible memories with their morning cup of coffee.

“If just 10 percent of Face Place customers order a photo-customized product, it can double the profitability of that photo booth,” said Mel LaForce, Apple VP of U.S. Sales and Marketing. “This is one more exciting way that Apple is working to ensure that every Face Place photo booth is an asset whose value continues to appreciate year after year.”

In other Apple/Face Place news, the company has launched a new tool on its website, “The Perfect Fit,” to help interested companies find the photo booth that’s best for their needs. They can visit the Face Place website, choose whether they operate an FEC, run a route or are event planners, pick an indoor or outdoor booth, select the size, and finally choose whether they want a booth with a green or traditional screen. The software then determines the best booth for their choices, simplifying the search with a few quick clicks.

For more, visit https://faceplace photo.com/photo-booth-selector, call 516/619-8000 or visit the home page at faceplacephoto.com.

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It’s Ready, Set, Hobbit at JJP

Jersey Jack Pinball’s second flipper game, The Hobbit, is in full production at the company’s Lakewood, N.J., plant. Company topper Jack Guarnieri also announced that JJP has signed on with Paramount Financial to assist businesses and homeowners in buying machines. Interested parties can contact them at apply.paramountfinancial.com/apply.php.

Jersey Jack, by the way, has a limited stock of their inaugural Wizard of Oz pingames available in both 75th Anniversary and regular models. Commedian Roman Atwood recently bought a 75th game and posted a video of the unboxing on YouTube. Guarnieri said it’s already gone viral with over 1,600,000 viewings.

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AMOA Reminds About Music Licensing; JLO Sets CD Juke Fee Schedule

The AMOA has released important information detailing the consequences of playing unlicensed music on CD jukeboxes. Meant to be a tool for operators who need to educate customers, the bullet-point resource called “Playing Unlicensed Music Can Be Hazardous to Your Business’ Health” highlights the hefty damages that can be levied against those found guilty of violating copyright law.

In a nutshell, most public businesses are required to pay for licensing if they are playing music during operating hours. “Performing Rights Organizations” like ASCAP, BMI and SESAC collect royalties for their member songwriters and publishers. Businesses that neglect to get a license for music performance can face damages ranging from $750 to $30,000 per song. These can be increased to as much as $150,000 per song!

In related news, the Jukebox Licensing Office (JLO) has published its rates for CD juke licenses for the new year, continuing to provide a discount for AMOA members. The fee on the first box is $477, the second and subsequent licenses only cost $81, which is a $29 saving compared to what non-AMOA member pay. Admittedly, the industry has mainly migrated to digital jukeboxes –– where the AMOA is not involved in licensing –– but there are still many CD jukeboxes on location across the U.S. Be sure to get ’em licensed!

For more details on JLO licensing, visit http://www.amoa.com/benefit-jukebox-licensing-discount and to download the AMOA’s jukebox licensing tip sheet or the equally-informative FAQ document about copyright and music, visit http://goo.gl/Mun5Yi.

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0Paying It Forward,
One Game at a Time

Four Kansas City area FECs partnered with three charities on Dec. 22 to host Play It For­ward, a holiday-inspired day of free play and fun. The city’s Dave & Buster’s, two Power­Play locations and Paradise Park FECs opened their doors to over 100 customers who enjoyed lunch and a collective 12-hour romp through game rooms and attractions.

Redemption Plus and their FEC partners worked with several local charities, including KVC Health Systems, the Niles Home for Children and Great Beginnings. In the spirit of Christmas giving, the attendees also received gift sets of plush, electronics and novelty items on top of free entry and play at the locations.

“I am humbled by the willingness of our staff and partners to participate in an event such as Play It Forward,” said Tabatha Bender, Connection Crusader (aka marketing coordinator) at Redemption Plus. “It’s generosity like this that will help our industry stand for something more.”

Bender and Redemption Plus wanted to thank their partners in this charity event, which was well received by the community and attendees and is expected to continue next year. For more information on Redemption Plus and the many other charity projects they work on, visit www.redemptionplus.com.

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Apple Spreads Cheer

Apple Indus­tries helped make the holidays more enjoyable for the Sunrise Day Camp’s children –– many with serious health issues –– on Dec. 28 at the facility in Little Neck, N.Y., with a Face Place Photo2Go booth they brought and set up on free play.

The company reported that kids lined up all day to get their photos taken and goof off in the booth, but snapshots from the party also showed many of parents and staff laughing as they got their photos taken, too.

“Our kids loved Photo2Go and it really added to an amazing and memorable day,” said Sunrise Assistant Director Dan Silver. “It was a great way to commemorate a very spectacular holiday party for all of our kids.”

Allen Weisberg, CEO of Apple Industries, was overjoyed to supply the booth for the camp. “It touches all of our hearts to think of the brave battles these kids, their brothers, sisters and their parents are fighting every day,” said Weisberg. “Our Face Place photo booths are all about creating happy and memorable moments, and I can’t think of a better time or place –– or a more suitable group of people –– to make that fun goal into a happy reality. We salute Sunrise Day Camp for the fantastic work they do.”

Despite it being a full-size, fully operational unit, the Photo2Go booth weighs in at only 400 lbs. and has built-in wheels for ease of transport. More details on the machine can be found at www.faceplacephoto.com/face-place-photo2go.Sunrise1

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AVS Supports Food Pantry

 American Vending Sales spent the final months of 2015 donating food to the needy in their community. Throughout November and December, the company made two deliveries totaling over 400 pounds of non-perishable food and supplies to the Elk Grove Village Food Pantry.

“I’m proud of the generosity shown by our staff and customers by coming together in this food drive,” said AVS President Vince Gumma. “We strive to be a leader, not just in business, but also in our community, and our AVS family has set a great example with this effort.”

To learn more about AVS, visit http.

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Directory Revision

In addition to changing the Lieber­man Distributing name in Minnesota to Ameri­can Vending Sales, please also update your RePlay Directory with the following information in the Parts, Supplies and Services section:

Creative Works, Inc.
350 Bridge Street
Mooresville, IN 46158
fax: 317-834-4771
Jeff Schilling, Owner/President
Kim Schilling, VP of Operations
Armando Lanuti, Owner/
VP of Operations
Marsha Brentlinger, Sales Advisor
[designer and builder of venues, manufacturer and supplier of attractions, and creator of props, effects, décor and more for entertainment sites around the globe; uses 33,000-sq.-ft. production facility and talented team of artists, designers and fabricators to build laser tag arenas, miniature golf courses, arcade attractions, props and themed environments]

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Lou Larson Exits Betson for Pennsy Gaming Position

Betson Distrib­uting’s Pittsburg Branch Manager (and Division VP) Lou Larson left his post to take on a new opportunity at the Univer­sal Gaming Group. Expecting that the Pennsylvania Legislature will pass a law allowing for the operation of on-location gaming machines very similar to what’s in place in Illinois, Larson’s job will be to develop that pending business with potential operator customers in the Western part of the state.

“Many of us in Penn­syl­vania, as well as Rob and Monica Breslow who own Universal, are convinced that video gaming terminals will happen in the near future for the state’s operators and bar locations,” Larson advised. “Universal is establishing itself in the state to do business when that happens and I’ll be helping them do that, dealing mostly with operators that I’ve come to know over my entire 38-year coin-op career. I’m excited about this great opportunity as gaming has been a passion of mine for our industry for well over 30 years,” he declared.

“The current efforts of our PAMMA operator association has directly helped us get language into Bill 649 that would expand casino gaming into allowing on-line gaming like Illinois has,” he continued. “The bill has been sent out by the Gaming Oversight Committee and we’re hoping it will be positively addressed by the full Legislature, maybe even by the first quarter of the coming year.” (That bill is actually better than Illinois’ law because it doesn’t have a clause where various municipalities can “opt out” of gaming.)

The Illinois system that permits video terminals on location gives operators a 35% split of the cash can, the bar owner another 35% and the state 30% (i.e. after winnings are paid out). This is the template PAMMA recommends. Several Pennsylvania legislators have traveled to Illinois, visited with operators, distributors and locations, and seen the success of the program in person, Lou advised.

Lou Larson joined Betson back in 1993 and has been managing their Pittsburgh office since the departure of Jim Wittler several years ago. “I really enjoyed my long career with Betson and working with Peter Betti and his team,” Larson declared. “I’m pleased that I’ll be staying with many of the industry people I’ve dealt with these many years and look forward to the long-fought-for legalization of on-line, on-location gaming we’ve been working toward for more years than I can count,” he added.

Bob Geschine, President of H. Betti Industries stated, “Lou has been an integral part of Betson’s success in the Pittsburgh market over the last 22 years, representing the interests of both Betson and the loyal customers in the Pittsburgh area. We would like to thank him for his dedication and hard work, and wish him continued success in his new and exciting career in the gaming industry.”

Going forward, Betson will continue to provide full service to the customers in the Pittsburgh market led by a solid team of dedicated long term employees:

Nick Sarioglou, amusement sales, 800/296-4100 ext. 94514, nsarioglou@ betson.com

David Surma, amusement sales and service, 800/858-2705 ext. 94106; dsurma@betson.com

• Kevin Bergen, amusement sales and financial services, 800/524-2343 ext. 93343, kbergen@betson.com

• Lee Ivory, vending sales, 800/858-2705 ext. 94105, livory@betson.com

• Amy Ellis, parts sales, 800/ 858-2705 ext. 94111, aellis@betson.com.

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Punch Bowl Social Opens in Windy City

Chicago has a new place for game lovers to enjoy classic arcade fun and gourmet dining and drinks: Punchbowl Social. This installation is one of 10 stores already open or in the works for the rapidly growing, Denver-based chain, with others in Portland, Ore., Denver, Detroit and Austin.

The newest store opened Dec. 12 in Chicago’s northeastern suburb, Schaumburg, at 1100 American Lane. The new arcade and dining experience serves a wide selection of comfort food alongside multiple bars and seating areas, bowling, ping pong, darts, shuffleboard, Skee-Ball, plenty of arcade games and a wide selection of pinball machines.

The grand opening was paired with a charity event, with all proceeds from the night going to benefit SOS Children’s Villages.

Another interesting aspect of the Chicago opening is the partnership with PayRange, the mobile payment solution provider. All games in the store are outfitted with PayRange’s cashless system, so customers can use their smart phones to pay for any and all of the machines via credits.

For more information, visit www.punchbowlsocial.com.

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TouchTunes 2nd Annual Band Search Underway

TouchTunes’ Breakout Band playlist is now live, putting nearly 300 unsigned bands and solo acts from around the U.S. onto their network. The company gives little-known artists a chance to win a live audition with an A&R executive at Warner Bros. Records, $3,000 and a music promotion on TouchTunes jukeboxes. It also gives all participating artists a chance to be heard on over 71,000 jukes across the world.

Unsigned artists registered for the search by sending one song for consideration, with the first 500 being automatically added into a playlist now visible on Touch­Tunes jukeboxes.

This year’s judging panel made up of well-known artists from several genres: Bebe Rexha, Dwight Yoakam, Duran Duran and Adam Lambert, all of whom are Warner Bros. recording artists.

If you’re interested in learning more about the competition, or listening to some of the bands being considered, visit www.touchtunes breakoutband.com or find your closest TouchTunes jukebox.

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BullShooter Qualifiers

Arachnid’s BullShooter tour held three contests late last year as part of the qualifying rounds for the main event: the big 31st Annual BullShooter Finals running over Memorial Day weekend (May 26-30) at the the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, Ill. All of the qualifiers had a $10,000 prize purse.

The tournament program arrived at the Chautauqua Suites Expo Center in Mayville, N.Y. (Nov. 13-15) for the New York Regional bout. Arachnid’s area distributor, Betson Advance, co-sponsored the event. Over $10,000 in cash and trophies were awarded to the winners in 11 main events. Players came from Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York to participate.

The Nevada BullShooter regional was held in Laughlin on Dec. 4-6 with players from California, Arizona, Idaho and Nevada competing for the $10,000 in prize money hosted at Don Laughlin’s Riverside Resort Hotel & Casino.

Most recently, shooters gathered in Texas on Jan. 8-10. For more information on the BullShooter tour, including the locations of the next regional tournaments, visit www.bullshooter.com.

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NDA Hosts Regionals

The AMOA-National Dart Association held three regional qualifiers for its Team Dart 2016 to be held April 22-27. These tournaments allowed players to enter into more than one event, giving them more chances to win and encouraging families and friends to compete together. The events were broken down by skill level as well, to ensure that players only competed with those of similar caliber.

On Nov. 20-22, 105 shooters sent by six NDA operators from across Arizona, Michigan and Nevada converged upon Phoenix to compete. Events included Open Singles 501, Open Singles Cricket, Open Doubles Cricket, Open Doubles ‘01 and Mixed Triples Combo.

In December (4-6), 126 players sent by 12 NDA operators from across Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio, competed in Indianpolis. This was the city’s first time hosting a tournament for the dart association, and it had nearly 230 entries for the many events. NDA tournaments allow players to enter several contests, giving them more chances to win and more reasons for families and friends to compete. All events are classified by skill rating and ability, providing a competitive experience where players only play those that play at a similar level.

The final regional tournament in the series was held in Rockford, Ill., Jan. 8-10.

For more details or to talk with an NDA operator about the program, go to www.NDAdarts.com/regionals.

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PayRange Releases Mobile App for Ops

Operators using Pay­Range’s mobile payment solutions now have a smartphone app just for them that makes checking sales information and summary metrics just like checking your email on the go.

“When I was an operator, I always imagined it would be so nice if I could view the sales we did yesterday first thing in the morning as I got up, like most people check email,” said founder and CEO Paresh Patel. “With the PayRange system, we make that dream a reality for operators.”

Those interested can utilize the same PayRange consumer app that is used to make mobile payments. Regis­tered operators, however, are allowed access to a special mode that allows them to see sales metrics and a dashboard with charts and summary information. Daily, weekly, monthly and annual sales details are updated every hour, including data concerning projected sales, lifetime mobile sales, average sales per machine, number of active devices and average sales per user. The app tracks both mobile and cash sales.

Each machine that has been fitted with the Pay­Range BluKey can already work with this. Available for iOS (Apple App Store) and Android (Google Play Store), the app is free to existing PayRange operators. The company says only the operator has access to his/her metrics, and information security is a top priority.

For more details, visit www.payrange.com.

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Helix Honors Employees

Helix Leisure, parent company of LAI Games, Embed and the Locker Network, has begun a Long Service Award program across its six global offices. Several award ceremonies consisted of the presentation of ticket-shaped, laser cut trophies during end-of-year events celebrated by each of the offices in December.

The awards recognize Helix Leisure employees who began their careers in the industry and have gained a depth of industry experience since then. These employees have shown dedication and commitment that has been central to the company’s ability to innovate and provide a high level of service over the years, reported the company.

33 employees were recognized globally, with experience levels ranging from five to 20 years in the business. Collectively, they have worked across the Embed, LAI Games and the Locker Network brands for over 302 years.

“The Helix team is our core asset. This is an incredible group of people to whom the company is deeply indebted for their commitment, service and excellence,” said Theo Sanders, Helix Leisure CEO.

To learn more about the company, visit www.helixleisure.com.

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People on the Move

Bandai Namco Amuse­ment America Inc. has announced a new addition to their team: Nathan Nissen. He has joined the company in the role of Product Marketing Coordinator for the company’s Product Strategy Department.

Nissen comes to the firm with over five years of experience in marketing and graphic design from the recreational sporting goods industry. He will focus on coordination and creation of graphics, advertisements, and many other assignments.

Nathan can be reached at: NNissen@bandainamco-am.com and 847-264-5627.

• • •

Helix Leisure, parent company to LAI Games, Embed and The Locker Network, has appointed Darren Chia as its Chief Product Officer. This newly created executive position will allow him to oversee the company’s four research and development teams in Perth, Singapore, Jakarta and Pune, as well as oversee Helix Leisure’s supply chain management function. Chia will relocate to his native Singapore and report to Chief Executive Theo Sanders.

As part of the reassignment, Mark Easte will move into the role of Sr. VP of Product Strategy and oversee the product roadmaps and major technology initiatives of the company. He will also report to Sanders.

“With Darren, we’re adding a world-class technology executive to Helix Leisure’s ranks,” said Theo Sanders. “Mark is an exceptional innovator and I’m confident this partnership will position the group to continue to deliver the cutting-edge of products and services to the industry.

• • •

TrainerTainment, the training company that services the FEC and other hospitality-driven markets, has announced a new addition to their team: Janice Jokkel.

Jokkel, who will work as a training specialist, specializes in mentoring and coaching youth. How­ever, her 20 years of experience in sales and project management will also help her offer clients an educational experience.

“After becoming a client of TrainerTainment several years ago and seeing the success of the program with my staff and customers, I am a true believer,” Jokkel said. “When the opportunity to join the team came up, I was thrilled I could share my experience with other clients of TrainerTainment.”

For more information on what Jokkel and the team will be doing this year, visit www.trainertainment.com.

• • •

CenterEdge, a supplier of POS, reservation, ticketing and access control systems, has announced the appointment of Sherry Howell as its “Director of Client Success.” She will lead a newly formed department that is focused on enhancing the product experience for the company’s users worldwide.

“The Client Success initiative is about incorporating the latest training techniques, establishing new lines of communication, and providing value-added content and tools targeted at im­proving the day to day business of Cen­terEdge clients,” noted company COO Marcus Mayer.

Howell comes from a background of experience in the sector, including her most recent post as the Director of Training and Operations for Trainer­Tainment.

For more information about CenterEdge, visit www.centeredgesoftware.com.

• • •

Last in our announcements this month, but certainly not least, Bob Cooney, a 25-year vet of the jukebox and games business, and RePlay contributor, has signed on as an independent consultant with PayRange, the makers of the mobile phone payment system used on vending machines and lately on amusements as well. Cooney believes PayRange has, in his words, “one of the most exciting technology developments in the coin-op business today.

“Mobile payments are the next evolution in our cashless society, but hooking up every coin-op device to a network to enable cashless is just not financially or technically practical. PayRange allows operators to take mobile payments without even having to think about that,” he declared.

Cooney will be working with PayRange Amusement Machine Sales Manager Mike Maloney and can be reached at bob.cooney@payrange.com.

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C onsidering that his career in the jukebox and games business ranged from exciting to outrageous, the way that Shane Breaks finally left us was totally out of character. The story goes that on Jan. 5, after delivering his wife Sophie to the doctor’s office, he went home to their place in the South of France, decided to take a nap to calm his nervousness over her visit, fell asleep and never woke up.

Shane was huge in every way. His life-long battle with weight gain and loss and accompanying love of food and hatred of dieting may have defined him to the numerous coin industry people he sold machines to. But to the “in crowd,” he was the quintessential wheeler-dealer.

He originally came to the States to work for Rowe International, spent years afterward with R.H. Belam exporters and then Atari before heading home with lots more money than he came with. But, rather then dwell on the fact that he still owed a certain magazine publisher $10.00 for a bottle of Beefeater he bought at a duty free shop for him at JFK Airport back in the ’80s but never got reimbursed for, let’s let some others share their memories:

Mary Fujihara

“You don’t cross paths with the likes of Shane Breaks too often in your life. He was like a fictional character to me. It was hard to believe some of his antics, though he was loyal and true to his friends to the end. He liked to share stories of his childhood which were always endearing and good for a laugh. Working at Atari wouldn’t have been the same without him.”

Kevin Hayes

“I’ve known Shane since August of 1978 when I was the newly-hired accountant and one of the first employees for Atari’s start-up factory in Tipperary, Ireland. Shane, then working for Belam, was our first trade visitor and I can still recall him saying: ‘You will remember me.’

“I worked with Shane for the next 20 years plus at Atari and at Namco in Ireland and California and had sailed with him frequently over the past twelve years on his sailboat in Port Camargue, France. He was a larger than life, brash personality, of great energy and vitality, who lived life to the fullest and packed a hell of a lot into his 75 years.”

Marc Haim

“Death is a natural part of life, but the passing of Shane Breaks is particularly sad, for he was truly a larger than life character. I first met him in 1974 when he worked for Rowe, and I was fortunate to have hired him to work for our family business, R.H. Belam Co.

“We were strictly an export company in those days and the opportunity to travel the world was very exciting to him. He quickly became an integral part of our business, and in those heady video boom years, we grew enormously.

“Alas, in 1980, Shane left us for the greener pastures of Atari in California where he teamed up with Gene Lipkin and Nolan Bushnell and became one of our largest game suppliers. Always looking for the next opportunity, and enticed by the chance to live in an Irish mansion at Atari’s expense, Shane later joined Kevin Hayes at the Atari Europe factory. We remained close friends.

“Shane was always ready to travel, whether to chase the next deal, sail on the next cruise or move to the next country, and our industry saw in Shane a true man of the world. Health problems…especially those related to his lifelong weight issues…slowed him down at times, but he always bounced back stronger than ever.

“A move back to London brought him a new job with Namco, another successful opportunity. He lived well, often to the consternation of his employers, but every one of them was happy to have him on their teams. His Puckaster House mansion on the Isle of Wight became a retreat for his many friends. I always loved the respite with him there.

“When Shane’s long marriage to Linda ended in divorce, he found happiness with his new wife Sophie. Interestingly, Sophie’s sister Natalie was a secretary at Belam back in the ’70s.

“Always a character, always gregarious, always ready to travel, never afraid of moving to another country, Shane Breaks was a giant in our industry. He leaves many friends behind, none sadder than me over his passing. I offer my condolences to Brandon and Kim and to Sophie and her children as I say goodbye to my friend Shane.”

[Editor’s note: Shane also leaves 10 grandchildren.]

Brad Fuller

Following the news of Shane’s passing, we learned that another Atarian was also gone. Brad Fuller, who had been Director of Audio, lost his battle with cancer on Jan. 2.

Brad join the company in 1982, composing music and sound effects, and stayed during the transition to Atari Games, where he became Director of Engin­eering in 1993 before leaving in 1996. Of his impact, Elaine Shirley wrote, “While our customers did not know him, he was very instrumental in many of Atari’s hits.”

He is survived by his wife Rebecca and sons Jeffrey and Kevin Wiens.

Bob Minick

J.R. “Bob” Minick passed away on Jan. 2 also after battling cancer. He is survived by his wife, Lottie, and son, James Randall.

Those in the amusement industry best know Bob through his Minick Associates firm which showcased his talents as it worked on design projects including amusement parks, fairs, FECs, water parks and restaurants. He worked on projects in Dubai and Texas, and many places in between, leaving his mark on the world through an assortment of fun-filled locations.

He grew up in Texas, and was noted for his artistic talents at an early age. After high school he moved to California to work at Disneyland alongside his uncle and aunt. They lived in the only house on the grounds of the iconic theme park, called the Circle D Ranch, and cared for over 220 animals. This job gave him and his family the unique title of being the only people to have ever lived at Disneyland.

Burgeoned by the creative spirit of Walt Disney himself, Bob began a fruitful career designing theme parks. After leaving Disney­land, he worked at several of them, before founding Minick Associates.

He was known for his generosity to both friends and strangers. Those who wish to perpetuate Bob’s big heart can give to his Random Acts of Kindness fund, c/o Bronco Productions, P.O. Box 77233, Fort Worth, TX 76177.


Larry Berke

Former Midway Games’ General Sales Manager Larry Berke died Dec. 20. The man who sold Space Invaders, Pac-Man and so many other licensed and in-house video games for Midway was 90 years of age. He is survived by his wife LaVerne, sons Cary and Bob, daughters Nancy and Donna, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Larry came to Midway as a route operator out of Skokie, Ill. He was an Army veteran of World War II and spent the latter part of that conflict in a German POW camp. His “golden years” as Midway’s sales manager began pretty much with Space Invaders, the game credited with launching the fabled “video game boom.”
“I remember visiting him at Midway’s exhibit at the 1978 AMOA show at the Conrad Hilton Hotel in Chicago,” RePlay’s Ed Adlum remembers today. “Like any magazine reporter would do, I asked Larry what the buzz game at the booth was. After showing me one I forgot pretty quickly, he pointed at Space Invaders and said ‘they seem to like this one,’ which has to be the greatest understatement of all time.”

Larry eventually left Midway after a long career and took on a sales post with Design Plus, Mike Seibert’s company that built and sold a rolldown bowler where the pins hung from ropes and jumped up into the cabinet when struck.

Among the many saddened by the news of Larry’s passing was his old friend, the retired Merit sales manager Mort Ansky, who said: “Larry Berke and I had a love/hate relationship over politics,” Mort fondly recalled. “Larry was a staunch Democrat and I’m a Fox News Republican. We had this long email debate going back and forth on what this politician did and what the other guy did. I’ll miss that,” he added.

Friends wishing to donate in his name can do so to the Wounded Warriors Project. Larry was one of the best and we pray that he rests in God’s peace.


Neel Clark

Neel C. Clark, past president of the National Bulk Vendors Assn. and co-founder of Kid Zone Inc., passed away in late November after a two-decade-long battle with multiple sclerosis.

Clark was well known in the bulk vending world for his commitment to the industry and his passion for the work. Since 1982 he worked as a supplier and a route operator and marketed gumball machines for Carousel Indus­tries. Later in the ’80s he formed Kid Zone; his final post was with Parisi Vending, a company known for creating the All-American Chicken Machine.

He is survived by his son David, sister Donna, nieces Jean and Kelly and great-niece and nephew Allison and Colin.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks donations be made to the Greater Illinois National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

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