Q&A with AMOA – August 2016

AMOA President Gaines Butler

AMOA President Gaines Butler

Non-Stop Learning

Gaines Butler on Upcoming AMOA Plans

Q: What’s your takeway after attending the many state association meetings?

A: For most of us operators, our perspective on the coin-op universe is largely shaped by the geographic limits of our routes. It’s where we spend most of our time, our energy, our focus and other resources.
Many of us get a couple or maybe a few glimpses of what lies beyond our home turf each year when we attend events such as the AAMA-AMOA Amusement Expo, the State Council meeting or some other industry gathering.

Gaines in Pennsylvania - 2016

In Pennsylvania, Gaines (center) with PAMMA President Steve Fritz (left) and lobbyist John Milliron;

When I was elected AMOA president nearly five months ago, I understood the position included an ambitious lineup of state association meetings to attend, and that as part of that, I would be invited to provide verbal updates on AMOA programs, services and activities at these events.

What I didn’t realize was part of the job description has been the nonstop learning I have experienced, and continue to discover, during my travels. From Oregon to Virginia and points in between, I find myself immersed in issues that don’t exist in my neighborhood. I’m listening to challenges, concerns and interests as expressed by people who –– though they live and work hundreds or even thousands of miles away from my shop  –– are in the same business as me.

Gaines addresses the AMOT membership.

Gaines addresses the Texas operator group.

Since early May, I’ve attended eight state meetings. More than anything, that’s given me a perspective and greater appreciation of how diverse, active and energetic our industry is.

Sure, there are some common threads: the typically small number of individuals who “move the needle” when it comes to getting things done and making changes; how the turnout at state association meetings swells when there’s a big issue at stake or how it declines when there isn’t one; the importance of strong lobbyists advocating for industry interests in state capitols; and how legalized gaming remains such a fixation for many industry groups.

But, I also see considerable and encouraging evidence of young people becoming increasingly engaged in their state associations. In an industry often viewed as aging and static, I encountered many examples to dispel that myth during my time on the state show circuit this spring and summer.

Yes, there are many challenges and threats to our livelihood all across the country these days, but I found plenty to be positive about: people who are proud to be operators; those who are professional in their approach; and individuals who are passionate about their businesses and their  industry as a whole.

Gaines Butler in Oregon - 2016

In Oregon, Gaines (right) visits with Jerry Johnson (past president of AMOA) and OAMOA President Lee Prantl.

One thing I learned long ago about our industry is how much fun we are! While I didn’t need to be reminded of this fact at every single meeting I’ve attended so far, it’s been a most enjoyable ride. To my old and new friends in Pennsyl­vania, Oregon, Virginia, Wiscon­sin, Texas, Minnesota, Illinois and Montana, thanks for sharing your stories, inviting me to be part of your program and for all the hospitality.

I’m nearly halfway through my term and travels. I think it will be tough to top what I’ve experienced so far, but I look forward to continuing to expand my horizons, broaden my view of the coin-op world and learn more about our dynamic industry and the people who make it so interesting and fun.

I hope to see you during one of my stops along the way.

Involved and working up through the ranks within AMOA since 2000, Gaines Butler has a great deal of passion for the coin machine industry and its main operator association. Himself a route operator (Metro Distributing in the Atlanta area), Gaines isn’t afraid of new ideas or taking the company in new directions (he’s added camera and alarm systems to the mix). During his presidency, Gaines has clear goals: “What I want to bring to this position are my passions for education and state involvement,” he told RePlay. “Every state can benefit from the AMOA, as can every operator and everyone in this industry. If you’re not a member, you should become one for the simple fact that it lets you know what is going on.”


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