Striking the Right Balance
t seems every day another state in our great country finds a way to close a tax loophole or to increase revenue and cut spending. As part of that overall trend, our industry has been under attack. Unfortunately, we get included in legislation by lawmakers who do not understand our industry or its products.
I know that we have many association people and committees working very hard in their state governments and in Washington in an effort to educate and enlighten. Thank goodness for them, or it would be worse.
I look at the law in Florida, Texas, Georgia and California as examples. Several years ago I was successful in my effort to differentiate our games from slot machines; that bill was amended in California with language I wrote in an email in minutes. [My editor is aware of that fact as proof that I am not making it up]. As California goes, so goes the nation with many laws that sweep across our country.
Many of these states are closing the profit gap in many businesses. Giving up the proverbial 5% to sleep better is great, but the toll never goes away. In fact, the toll always goes up.
Allowing the use of lottery tickets as prizes is wonderful, but again, that serves those respective states and is really just another tax disguised as an opportunity of a lifetime.
We should all wake up and, like that famous movie says, announce that we are mad as heck and not going take it anymore. Where is the amusement industry I came into in 1975 where people took a stand and personally saw it through? Roger Sharpe, with a single shot on a pinball machine in front of New York City lawmakers, convinced them that pinball was, is and forever will be a game of skill.
Georgia makes a distinction in their law regarding what is a skill game. I’m very familiar with it as I operated equipment in Georgia. I operated in Florida, California and Texas as well. When you read those laws, you know that the days of high dollar merchandise is over in those states.
This has come to pass for many reasons, not least of which were operators who did not award prizes. As the old saying goes, “Winners make players.” Giving prizes to your players gives them a reason to come back and play again. Seeing others walking around with prizes is the greatest advertisement to play your games.
Balance is important. We need more than just redemption and instant-win equipment. I love those pieces, but there is an important place for other types of equipment including basketball, alley games, pinball, air hockey and novelty. Some of the new video redemption games look great, too. Good operators try to have something for everyone: boys and girls, old and young.
Not everything can be the number one game. I’m not saying buy bad games, but buy games that have entertainment and amusement value and mix them into your locations. Not everything can give tickets or prizes, and not everyone wants to win a rubber duck.
If you can keep your players in your locations longer, they will have a better experience, spend more money and come back more often. They are not going to stay there if everything is a quick coin game and they do not perceive value for their time or money
The taxation and legislation will continue as it has since the beginning of time itself. Next up, perhaps, is the elimination of the Internet’s sales tax exemption so brick and mortar businesses will rejoice even as online sellers find other ways to compete.
Don’t find yourself legislated out of business or worse –– fined out of business or thrown out of a location –– for violating the law. Educate yourself in these new laws if you operate in those states and continue to take an active role in your associations and their committees to try and protect what you can.
If you are smart you will figure out a way to be more profitable and grow in spite of these new laws when others cannot or will not. You are smart because you are here now reading this so go make it happen!
(c) All contents of this page and the entire RePlay Magazine website at http://www.replaymag.com and http://replaymagazine.com. Copyright 2013 RePlay Magazine. All rights reserved.
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