Industry icon Humbert “Bert” Betti was among the first class of inductees into the Amusement Industry Hall of Fame. Betti grew a humble New Jersey jukebox route started by his father into the leading coin-op distribution company, H. Betti Industries.
Started as H. Betti & Sons by Humbert Betti Sr. in 1934 (with the younger Bert among the “sons”), the company’s first machine on the street was a Mills jukebox at the tavern in which the elder Betti was a business partner. The Mills juke was replaced by a more popular 12-disc Wurlitzer and the move officially launched the operation, with more machines placed around New York City. The biz set up shop just across the river in Union City, N.J.
Bert, along with brothers Hugh, Eddie and Louis, helped with the business but were all called to service during World War II, which left the senior Betti to handle the locations with his daughters Olga and Augustine. (Upon returning home safely, all the boys went back into business with their dad, except for Lou, who went on to build his own vending operation.)
The Betti family route continued to grow with Bert at the helm after his father retired in the ‘50s. They operated mainly in New Jersey with jukeboxes, pinballs and other novelties. The company was also instrumental in the late 1950s of introducing pool tables into the bar market.
Bert expanded further and eventually became a nationwide distributor of pool tables, arcade games, vending machines and more under the name Betson Enterprises. He formed a parts division called Eastern Novelty Co., too. Betson equipment in the early days included the Fisher pool table line and games from Midway, Chicago Coin and others, as well as Rock-Ola jukes.
After growing the company into the behemoth it is today, Betti retired in the early 1990s, handing the reins to his son Peter Betti (Bert’s other son Robert and nephew Joe – Hugh’s son – were also instrumental in company history around this time).
Today, another generation of the Betti family is helping the company evolve. Among those on hand at Amusement Expo to accept the Hall of Fame induction of their grandfather were Catherine Algra, Jonathan Betti and Chris Betti.