Nationally, unemployment in the U.S. is 8-9%. In the coin-op amusements industry, it’s somewhere around 40%. That was one of many points AAMA executive director Pete Gustafson (pictured below) and other industry leaders tried to drive home with Congressional representatives during the virtual D.C. “trip” yesterday, Oct. 1.
Organized by AAMA lobbyists John Russell IV and Margeaux Plaisted with Dentons, between 30 and 35 participants from just about every part of the industry were on hand throughout the day at the dozen Zoom calls on the docket, including representatives from associations like AMOA, RSA and IATP. That’s a lot of people compared to the 6-8 or so who usually make their way to Washington on a typical AAMA D.C. trip.
And a lot was accomplished, and the general consensus was that the industry was heard. The short of it: This industry needs help.
A main point Gustafson made throughout the day was that AAMA doesn’t want future stimulus funding tied to payroll (like PPP) because some operators still can’t reopen or aren’t able to bring their employees back at all yet; Economic Injury Disaster Loans that some were able to receive are all out of funds, too, and could certainly afford to be replenished.
Beth Standlee of TrainerTainment was on some of the calls and predicted a potential loss of 50% of locations, driving home the point that fun center businesses and the like are in dire need of financial assistance. She also noted the trickle-down effect on employment – that single locations with a range of 30-130 employees have had to cut down those numbers, and that would-be first-time employees are missing out on opportunities they would’ve had.
AAMA’s president Joe Camarota, also of Alpha-Omega, made sure to point out that coin-op is deeply connected to the bar-restaurant-hospitality industries, and has been impacted as much if not more than them – therefore, our industry shouldn’t be forgotten altogether in the next wave of funding. (As it seems to have been forgotten in states that reopened casinos but not arcades.)
Other discussions touched on cleanliness of locations and adhering to Covid-19 guidelines; consumer confidence; and much of the industry missing out on the important summer season, a point especially driven home to representatives in more seasonal regions like New England and the Midwest.
The industry leaders met with Kunal Parikh of Sen. Scott’s office (South Carolina); Allie Esau of Rep. Stauber’s office (Minnesota); Chelsea Glynn of Rep. Delgado’s office (New York); Nate Riggins of Rep Kim’s office (New Jersey); Daniel Tsang of Rep. Crow’s office (Colorado); the National Governors Assn.; Kayla Primes of Rep. Houlahan’s office (Pennsylvania); the National Council of State Legislators; Jim Warren of Rep. Bishop’s office (North Carolina); Will Strother of Rep. Burchett’s office (Tennessee); Max Ernst of Rep. Finkenauer’s office (Iowa); and Will Woodworth of Rep. Golden’s office (Maine).
A busy, busy day for those who went through every meeting to plead their case for amusement industry support! The next virtual D.C. trip is tentatively planned for January 2021 as the new Congress is sworn into office. Stay up to date and learn more at www.coin-op.org.