Reflections on a Productive Year
Q: What have been AAMA’s milestones so far this year and what are your goals for the upcoming meeting and gala?
A: There have been a couple of major things this year. We implemented our new Code of Conduct [see the sidebar below], which started as the Fair Play Pledge, with the input of our membership at our annual meeting last October.
We are truly representing our membership, who are creating games of skill. We don’t want to be associated with anything else. We want to ensure we, as an industry, live within the highest standards. Essentially, it’s about our members living an excellence filter when running all aspects of their business.
As an association, a few years ago we really decided to engage in Washington, D.C. – not just once a year as we were doing. Now we go quarterly. There are times when it might feel like there’s not much going on, but we go there to say, “Hey, here’s what our members do.”
I can speak to Bay Tek specifically and say, “This is a family-owned business and we have 200 employees, we give back 10 percent of profits to charities and we export 30 percent of our business. Those are numbers that are really intriguing to politicians. And to add the human element – to explain what the manufacturers, distributors and suppliers do in our industry. They are all aware of our products because they are consumers of them, however, they need educating on how those games are manufactured, distributed and operated by small and large businesses here in the U.S.
Those are really fun meetings. We’ve worked with some of our counterparts to build some of those relationships, which is important to do when your hair’s not on fire, so to speak. You have to consistently build those relationships.
Another thing that we’re really proud of – we just had our 10th year partnering with AMOA on the Amusement Expo. Our education component continues to be rock solid and growing. Since switching to a dedicated education day, attendees are able to stay on the show floor during exhibit hours and not at an educational seminar. The trade show isn’t just a “trade show” anymore: it’s an educational and networking event.
Along with that, we were able to work with the AMOA to re-sign a new joint venture agreement, which is good for the next 12 years. We want to create as much value for our industry as we can. We’ve got to continue to evolve.
That said, for a long time the FEC community felt like they didn’t have a home. That’s changed. Information sharing is so vital. We’ve had an FEC initiative for the past couple of years and held three FEC Connect events this year. We’re slowly growing our FEC membership, and we have some really active FEC members. We don’t just want their dues – we want them to come join a committee and have a voice. It’s about communication and better understanding.
As for our upcoming meeting, I look forward to passing the reins (as AAMA president) and continuing to make these efforts. We’ve got a great staff and board, and we’ll continue to look for more educational opportunities at our annual meeting. We’re working on selecting keynote speakers. Overall, continuing to add value to our membership is really a focus.
AAMA’s Code of Conduct
1. We commit to ensuring our businesses meet all applicable safety standards and codes.
2. We conduct business and customer interactions honestly and fairly.
3. We comply with all local, state and federal laws and regulations pertaining to our businesses.
4. We honor all intellectual property rights of our members.
5. We abide and comply with the By-laws of AAMA.
6. We will not knowingly manufacture, sell, support or acquire new amusement games in the United States that do not meet a standard of performance that allows a player a fair chance of succeeding with every game played. Players can expect:
a. A player’s skill can improve with practice and experience.
b. A player’s skill influences the outcome of the game.
c. AAMA FEC Owner/Operators will ensure players are presented with age appropriate amusement games.
Late in 2017, the AAMA inaugurated the association’s first ever female president, Holly Hampton. Hampton has been involved with the industry since she landed an internship at Bay Tek Games, where she still works today, and developed quickly as a potential leader for the AAMA. She started getting involved in 2008, pushing herself out of her comfort zone and onto the horizon she flies today. Among her goals: to continue to diversify the association’s leadership and membership, continue to pursue the group’s growth within the FEC part of the business, and to encourage idea sharing through a new online forum. “When you’re trying to create anything, you need input from people. Field testing, focus groups, all that helps us make a better game at Bay Tek,” Hampton said. “It’s the same with the association. We want to make sure we provide a good product. If that happens, everyone wins. We hope to do that and have some fun while we’re at it.”