Show of strength
by Jack Bulavsky
Show of strength
AGEM membership includes the industry's biggest players uniting on common causes and community leadership
AGEM Report by Jack Bulavsky
Jack Bulavsky is executive director of the Las Vegas-based Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers (AGEM). If you're interested in learning more about AGEM, contact Jack at (702) 434-4597 or visit www.agem.org.
From fighting problem gambling to contributing to state and national economies, the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers (AGEM) has become a positive force in the gaming industry.
AGEM was organized five years ago to promote and represent the interests and concerns of gaming manufacturers and to provide a united voice on matters of importance to the industry. AGEM also works to promote excellence in the manufacture of gaming devices and equipment, and assist in the planning and presentation of industry trade shows.
AGEM has been a co-sponsor of some of the largest gaming trade shows in the industry, including Global Gaming Expo (G2E) and the Latin America Gaming and Entertainment Expo (LGE). G2E, held annually in Las Vegas, is the preeminent international gaming industry trade show and conference that attracts the best the industry has to offer. Last year's G2E was the most successful trade show to date, with attendance reaching more than 26,000.
This year's show will again focus on the many exciting and new products from AGEM members who proudly showcase their wares. (By the way, AGEM has a booth at G2E, Booth 811, and I would consider it a privilege to have you come by and say hello).
AGEM members and representatives also attended LGE in Buenos Aires, Argentina last year to not only showcase the latest in gaming technology, but to work closely with LGE show officials to discuss how Latin America can improve its gaming trade shows. Discussions are being held to position AGEM in other trade shows in Europe and Asia.
In addition to the accomplishments AGEM has made within the gaming industry, the association has been committed to help with community issues, the most prominent being problem gambling. In July 2004, AGEM became a platinum corporate member of the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling after a significant donation of $20,000.
The $20,000 donation from AGEM to the Nevada Council supports the work of this non-profit organization, whose mission is to raise awareness, promote education, and advocate for quality treatment for problem gambling in Nevada. The council relies on voluntary contributions to sustain its education and outreach efforts, including its 24-hour Problem Gambler's Helpline (1-800-522-4700).
"Collectively, the AGEM board is comprised of various companies that contribute to the distribution and manufacturing of gaming devices," explained Walt Stowe, president of AGEM and vice president of legal and compliance for Aristocrat Technologies. "As an organization, we recognize that there is a certain portion of the population that does have a gambling problem. Contributing to organizations that are committed to assisting individuals who have this disease is not only the responsible thing for us to do, it's the right thing for us to do."
AGEM has also contributed a minimum of $25,000 to support the efforts of the National Council on Problem Gambling for the next four years, and matches donations by AGEM member up to $50,000 per year. AGEM also donated $50,000 to the Problem Gambling Center in Las Vegas. This facility, the largest in the state, provides treatment to individuals, regardless of their financial situation.
Additionally, AGEM and its members have supported an extensive list of charitable organizations such as Boys and Girls Clubs, United Way, American Red Cross, educational foundations and health groups. The combined charitable support of AGEM members exceeded $4 million in 2004.
Some of the most successful and influential companies in the industry are members of AGEM. They include: AC Coin & Slot, Aristocrat Technologies, Atronic, Bally Gaming and Systems, Cadillac Jack, ECS America, Inc., GTECH, Gaming Partners International, Gary Platt Manufacturing, IDX, IGT, JCM American Corporation, Konami Gaming, KSK, MEI, Shuffle Master Gaming, Summit Gaming, TCS America, TransAct Technologies, Unidesa, Wells-Gardner Electronics Corporation, WMS Gaming, and 3M Touch Systems.
While AGEM members are based around the world, most have a significant presence in Nevada. In Nevada alone, AGEM companies employ more than 8,500 people in high-paying, high-tech jobs.
Those employees include software designers, graphic artists, engineers, cabinet makers, and a host of other skilled and talented workers who manufacture, market and maintain gaming machines, bill acceptors, video monitors, audio-video display systems and other state-of-the-art gaming technologies. These well-paid workers pump millions into the economy each month, while creating even more jobs and a steady steam of tax revenue.
The gaming manufacturing industry occupies over 4.5 million square feet of manufacturing space throughout the state. AGEM companies invest heavily in new games and new technology, spending over $150 million annually on research and development projetcs.
During its May meeting, members elected officers for 2005-06. They include: Walt Stowe, Aristocrat Technologies-president; Orrin Edidin, WMS Gaming-vice president; Erik Batzloff, JCM American-secretary; Brooke Dunn, Shuffle Master Gaming-treasurer; and Mark Lerner, Alliance Gaming-general counsel. Stowe said AGEM would continue to focus on gaming issues as they affect manufacturers in the United States and around the world.
"Over the past five years," said Stowe, "AGEM has grown into a strong and vibrant group with active and interested members. Now that we have established ourselves, we are better able to turn our attention to legislative activities within the United States, and stay abreast of the many gaming changes that are occurring internationally." CJ