AAMA, along with their advocacy team at Dentons, made a recent trip to Capitol Hill on Feb. 8 to meet with nine federal congressional offices. They were the association’s first in-person congressional meetings in three years due to the pandemic.
Representing the amusement group on The Hill were AAMA executive vice president Pete Gustafson; AAMA president Jeff Blair (Sureway Games); government relations co-chair Joe Camarota (Alpha Omega Sales); government relations co-chair Rich Babich (The Game Exchange of Colorado); board member Gary Stern (Stern Pinball); board member Russ Van Natta (Creative Works); board member Howard McAuliffe (Pinnacle Entertainment Group); government relations committee member Nick Sarioglou (Betson); and member Mike Abecassis (Game Time Entertainment).
Four primary concerns were brought up – the global supply chain, labor force issues (specifically H2B visas), taxes and credit card processing fees.
AAMA met with Rep. John James (Michigan), whose district includes the award-winning C.J. Barrymore’s FEC; Rep. Bill Foster (Illinois), who is a member of the House Financial Services Committee; Rep. Shelia Cerfilus-McCormick (Florida), a member of the House Energy and Commerce committees; Rep. Diana DeGette (Colorado), also a member of the House Energy and Commerce committees; Sen. John Hickenlooper (Colorado), a member of the Senate HELP, Small Business, Energy and Commerce committees; Sen. Michael Bennet (Colorado), a member of the Senate Finance, Banking, AG and Intelligence committees; Sen. Robert Menendez (New Jersey), a member of the Senate Finance, Banking and Foreign Relations committees; and Rep. Sean Casten (Illinois), a member of the House Financial Services Committee.
“The goal of these meetings was to let legislators know how decisions made in the halls of Congress impact small businesses like ours,” said AAMA president Jeff Blair. “We wanted to ensure our industry was included in any legislative or policy decisions made by Congress concerning our four primary talking points.”
Added Rich Babich: “It was a terrific time to be on The Hill. We were there at the start of a new congress, sharing real-world stories of the impact legislative actions have on small businesses. We were greeted by attentive and engaged congressional staff members who understood the challenges our industry is facing.
“As an added bonus, we were on The Hill the day after President Biden’s State of the Union Address to Congress, which meant every legislator was going to be in town. I sat next to Sen. Michael Bennett on my flight to Washington and shared with him why I was going to be there. It was a great opportunity to share our talking points directly with the senator.”
AAMA plans a return trip to D.C. in late spring and again in the early fall. Stay up to date with that information at www.coin-op.org.