It’s been said more than once: lawmakers just don’t understand what the coin-operated amusement business is all about. Once again, this has been amply demonstrated here and there around the country where local authorities allowed some locations to reopen during the Virus Crisis but kept a tight lid on game play. Ohio’s operators had to sue in order to straighten that out (way to go, guys!). That shouldn’t have to be, not if a few things were made clear.
First of all –– and I know I’m preaching to the choir here ––– amusement machines are normally owned and managed by companies who specialize in supplying them, not the locations where they’re found and played. Generally speaking, the people who offer this service are called “operators” and are anything but stupid. They’re usually experienced in their craft and do realize that social distancing can be more difficult to maintain than in some other businesses. They can –– and have –– proven they are capable of providing exactly that (you can move a game as easily as anything else except maybe a bank safe).
All the sanitary tools are also in the operator’s “kit” and will be provided in concert with the location itself. In the case of an arcade or FEC game room, the same applies. Enforcing the rules required by localities is fully appreciated by the amusement operator, as surely and religiously as any nail salon or tattoo parlor does. Okay, now one other thing: What about the actual service this “operator” sells to the general public?
Whether it’s called the “jukebox business,” the “video game business” or the “arcade business,” it’s the average citizen’s “country club” where they go to have fun and recreate the spirit dulled either by work, or by school. Government says we’re not “essential.” Really? What coin-op provides is an escape that people need now more than ever. It’s also important to note that most coin-operated games are single-player attractions, which fit into the social distancing mold a lot better than sitting next to the guy wielding the tattoo needle, right?
I hope these points will be considered by authorities when phasing things into the grand reopening. And now I want the operators reading this to consider something just as important: There is still a need to be careful and cautious about the health of you, your family, your employees and for sure, your customers. The virus is just as brainless as a brush fire that can and will flare up at whim. Fears or a second wave of business closures are valid. I know everyone realizes this as they rush about trying to get their businesses back up. Okay? Okay!
– Eddie Adlum