Making the Rounds
LaFleur Chats About Issues Facing Operators and How AMOA is Helping
Q: Before we get into a look at your term as AMOA President, how is the Amusement Expo shaping up?
A: I feel so fortunate to have been able to visit with so many different states across the country over the past nine months. The passion and commitment displayed by AMOA operators never ceases to amaze me. While each state has its own issues and even its own culture, the common thread for all state organizations is the commitment to making the industry better for all of us, especially when it comes to legislation.
As we look ahead to 2018, it’s time again for one of my favorite annual gatherings, the AMOA State Council Meeting. Throughout my travels this year, I encouraged each state to make sure it’s represented at our 2018 event.
When and where is the AMOA State Council Meeting slated to be held in 2018?
This year’s meeting will be held Jan. 25-27 at the San Diego Marriott Mission Valley in California. Our State Association Committee, led by AMOA board member Michael Martinez, has been hard at work putting together an excellent program.
Can you share a preview of the program?
Sure! It will feature an update from AMOA’s legislative counsel Dentons, along with sessions concentrated on the following areas:
Gaming – As gaming legislation continues to be introduced in various states around the country, this session will provide updates from those who continue to battle for operator-run VLTs, in addition to other types of legal gaming.
Legislation Affecting ATM Operators – While the recent focus has been on Operation Choke Point and the abrupt bank account closures impacting operators, there’s also been a recent uptick in unfavorable legislative efforts at the state level when it comes to the operation of ATMs. During this session, we’ll look at some of the proposed legislation and provide an update as to how the federal banking regulators are heeding the Department of Justice’s recent announcement putting an end to Operation Choke Point.
Taxes, Licenses and Fees – It seems the amusement industry has always been a prime target when it comes to assessing additional taxes, licenses and/or fees. Some states, however, have found ways to eliminate
or reduce these costs to operators. This discussion will focus on strategies some states have used to move the needle in their favor.
Member Engagement – This is what makes good associations stand out from mediocre associations. In this interactive session, you’ll hear a variety of ideas from several states. The bottom line…Adding Value = Better Member Engagement.
Can you tell us who will be attending this meeting?
Each state is invited to send two leaders from their statw. Typically this includes a hired executive director, if the group has one, and the state association’s president or other leader.
Of course, not all states have an organized association, and AMOA encourages any industry member from one of those states wanting to attend, to call the AMOA office to obtain registration materials. This meeting truly takes the pulse from around the country and the exchange of information strengthens our ties together as an industry, which is why it’s so important for states without an organization to attend.
For several years now, we’ve also invited our dinner sponsors to send a representative to the meeting. Their participation in our factory panel discussions provides the opportunity to gain perspective from their vantage point within the industry.
All in all, we typically see 70-75 people in attendance, which includes representatives from close to 30 states.
You mentioned AMOA’s legislative efforts above. Are there any updates to share?
As AMOA noted back in August, we were pleased when the Department of Justice put an end to the Operation Choke Point initiative. We also stated that we were cautiously optimistic the federal banking regulators would follow suit. Unfortunately, we are now learning this isn’t the case as we’ve heard from three different member operators over the past week that one of the larger banking institutions is once again closing accounts.
AMOA typically conducts a Fall visit to D.C. in September/October, however, we held off and scheduled our next visit for Nov. 27-28 as we wanted to see whether the banks would adhere to the DOJ’s announcement. Unfortunately this hasn’t been the case. By the time your subscribers are reading this, we will have had that meeting. We’ll be sure to share details after our late November visit to Washington, D.C.
(Look to RePlay’s email newsletter and www.replaymag.com for updates.)
Rick LaFleur brings a wealth of experience to his term as AMOA president from running the I.F. LaFleur and Sons multi-generational operating company in Devils Lake, North Dakota. Seeing the job as an opportunity to give back, the genuine and likable LaFleur has a tremendous amount of optimism for the industry as it embraces opportunities and navigates challenges ahead.