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Lawmakers examining Georgia’s coin-operated amusement machines business

ATLANTA — The coin-operated amusement machines (COAM) business in Georgia has been thriving since the Georgia Lottery Corp. took over regulating the industry in 2013, Lottery President and CEO Gretchen Corbin said Wednesday.

Georgians spent more than $3 billion during the last fiscal year playing the machines, mostly at convenience stores and restaurants across the state, Corbin told members of a Georgia Senate study committee at its kickoff meeting.

After players redeemed prizes valued at $2.1 billion, that left more than $900 million in net revenue for COAM license holders, the businesses housing the games and the lottery to divide.

Under state law, 10% – roughly $91 million – went to the lottery for distribution to Georgia’s HOPE Scholarships and pre-kindergarten programs, a figure that has grown from $33.5 million just five years ago.

Despite that success, state policy makers see room for improvement, which is where the study committee comes in.

Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, the Senate’s presiding officer, appointed four senators and five industry representatives to the committee last month.

“This committee was specifically appointed to review the current regulatory scheme of bona fide coin-operated amusement machines enforced by the Georgia Lottery,” Duncan said in a statement. “This committee will take a comprehensive look at the COAM industry to ensure that we protect legitimate businesses, while providing guidelines for the Georgia Lottery to oversee this industry and ensure compliance with the law.”

A complaint with the industry senators on the committee cited Wednesday was the awarding of cash to winners, which is prohibited. Legal prizes under the law include lottery tickets, gasoline and in-store merchandise, but not cash.

Corbin said a pilot project the lottery launched recently allows winners to receive a COAM gift card.

“It could provide for a smarter transaction between the customer and the machine, so people will play it more,” she said.

“That may be a way to clean up in the industry,” added Sen. Larry Walker III, R-Perry.

Corbin said her goal for getting the best data from the pilot project is to widely distribute the gift-card option geographically. She also wants to offer gift cards both in stores that sell a lot of lottery tickets and in those with poor sales.

“We’re really trying to be as inclusive as possible,” she said.

Sen. John Kennedy, R-Macon, the study committee’s chairman, responded to complaints from representatives of businesses housing the machines that the panel is top-heavy with executives from the vendors that provide them. It was simply a matter of the vendors stepping up first and volunteering to serve on the committee, Kennedy said.

“There is no effort to stack the committee,” he said. “We’re going to make sure going forward that the locations are heard.”

The committee is due to hold two more meetings. Its deadline for recommendations is Dec. 1.

The coin-operated amusement machines (COAM) business in Georgia has been thriving since the Georgia Lottery Corp….

Coin Operated Amusement Machines (COAM)

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  • Overview
  • COAM FAQs

In April of 2013, the Georgia Lottery Corporation (GLC) statutorily assumed the regulatory duties of compliance and enforcement of Class A and Class B Coin Operated Amusement Machines (COAMs) in Georgia. The COAM Division of the GLC oversees these duties. Strict licensing standards, financial responsibilities, and connection/communication protocols are governed by GLC rules and state law. Awareness and education are the two most important fundamentals for a COAM license holder in today’s industry. For more details, visit the COAM licensing and reporting website.

COAM is an acronym for Coin Operated Amusement Machine. There are two types of COAMs in Georgia (Class A and Class B) which are defined by Georgia statute. Some examples of Class A COAMs are kiddie rides, skeeball, claw machines, pinball games, typical arcade games, pool tables that accept coins or bills, and juke boxes. Most Class B COAMs in Georgia are redemption devices that are also games of skill that may allow a successful player to carry over points won on one play to a subsequent play or plays.

Effective as of April 10, 2013, the Georgia Lottery Corporation (GLC) regulates the industry.

Yes. Any location that allows COAMs to be placed in the location and made available to the public for play must hold a valid COAM Location License issued by GLC. A Location License Holder is the owner or operator of a business where 1 or more COAMs are available to play by the public. Any owner of a COAM that places machines in an owner or operator’s place of business and made available to the public for play must hold a valid COAM Master License issued by GLC. A Master License Holder is the owner of COAMs placed in a business and made available to the public for play. Any manufacturer or distributor that sells or distributes COAMs to an owner which are made available to the public for play must hold a valid COAM Manufacturer or Distributor License issued by the GLC. A Manufacturer or Distributor is a person, individual, partnership, corporation, limited liability company, or any business entity that supplies and sells major components or parts, including software, hardware, or both to Class B machine distributors or operators.

The Georgia Lottery Corporation currently has rules and regulations in place for COAMs which can be located on the COAM licensing and reporting website and accessing the Services and Support/Documents section.

An applicant may apply for or renew a COAM Location License, COAM Manufacturer/Distributor License, or renew a COAM Master License through the Georgia Lottery Corporation COAM licensing and reporting website.

More information regarding COAMs in Georgia can be found on the Georgia Lottery Corporation’s COAM licensing and reporting website.

Coin Operated Amusement Machines (COAM) IMPORTANT REMINDER Dear Valued Retailers, Please join us in following public health guidelines. Please print this sign and display it on your