International ROUND-UP

US :   I n Lexington, Kentucky, foosball players competed for US $30,000 worth of prizes at the Kentucky State Table Soccer Championship Tournament. Held from August 3-6 at the Holiday Inn, the event attracted over 400 table soccer players, including members of the US team. The tournament included categories for men, women and children from beginner to master.

      Now recognized as an International Table Soccer Federation Master Series event, the annual Kentucky tournament has even been elevated to international tournament status. The competition featured match ups between the top American players such as defending champion and US number one Billy Papps, 21, of Lowell, Massachusetts and other US team members against national team members from Canada, Ireland, Germany, the UK and more. Players at master level competed not only for cash and prizes at the event, but also for qualifying points to compete at the ITSF World Series masters Championships in St Vincent, Italy , in November.
      The tournament was organized by Kentucky’s own Independent Foosball promotions and sanctioned by both the United States Table Soccer Federations and ITSF.

SINGAPORE :   Merit Entertainment has revealed that Singapore Police, from the Intellectual Property Rights Bureau, raided two entertainment outlets in Singapore on July 12, 2006. They seized 23 copies of Merit Force video games and related documents and records.

      The entertainment outlets were located in the Suntec City Mall and the Plaza Singapura. “The raids are just the start of our anti-counterfeiting efforts in Singapore, and more actions will be taken in the near future,” promised Bob Fay, Merit’s director of government relations. “I visited Singapore recently and was shocked at the number of Merit copies in bars, pubs, and shopping mall amusement centres,” stated Fay. “I personally feel bad for the citizens of Singapore, who are wasting their money on copies of our great product. They should have the right to play the real thing,” Fay added.
      Fay conducted meetings with Singapore governmental agencies and the American Embassy on his recent trip. He was pleased that the authorities were committed to fighting piracy. Fay also praised the work of the Baker and McKenzie and its associated firm Wong and Leow  LLC, which co-ordinate the initial investigations and raids on behalf of Merit.

     “This action, along with recent actions in Hong Kong and South Africa, should demonstrate to individuals who manufacture, distribute or operate merit copies, that Merit is committed to fighting piracy at all levels, and in any country where our intellectual property rights are being violated,” said Fay.
      Merit president David Logan added: “Our antipiracy programme is achieving excellent success, and will continue. We are pleased with all the support we have been getting, in many countries, in arresting those who manufacture, distribute, or operate illegal copies. ”

UK NUTS is now the most played SWP game on the itbox, knocking Bullseye off the top spot. Anne De Kerckhove, cOO of inspired, told InterGame: “The partnership between Nuts and the Itbox has been one of our most successful to date. ”

US:   PINBALL is making a comeback in the US, if the newly resurrected International Flipper Pinball Association, which has bounced back into the field of play after an absence of more than a decade, is anything to go by. With an objective of encouraging and supporting the establishment of authenticated worldwide player rankings, endorsed tournaments, leagues and competitions as well as a variety of promotional activities, the new IFPA has ambitious goals. However, what the IFPA recognizes is that a community of pinball fans already exists.
      The IFPA  has been created to elevate the awareness and visibility around the world while also generating media coverage and corporate sponsorship to help bring the sport of competitive pinball back into the spotlight. Although there only a single manufacturer- Stem –currently producing new pinball machines, the IFPA  knows that pinball can once again be viewed as a legitimate form of competition as well as a leisure entertainment attraction. The IFPA has created the World Pinball Player Rankings – over 400 players are currently listed.

      Through these IFPA –endorsed tournaments and leagues, the IFPA  will crown the World’s Greatest Pinball Player at the end of each year. IFPA endorsed tournaments will give players a chance to earn WPPR  points to increase their rankings. The IFPA  will provide assistance to location owners, operators, and players. IFPA’s co-directors are Roger Sharpe and Steven Epstein.
      Sharpe’s contributions and impact on the coin-op industry have been evident for over 30 years from his book on pinball machines, testifying in New York City to help legalize the games and, for 12 years, the director of marketing and licensing for Williams Bally/Midway. He has also designed a number of memorable games and contributed to the pages of all the leading coin-operated industry trade publications.
      Steven Epstein’s accomplishments are no less impressive as the owner /operator of the world famous Broadway Arcade in New York City for over 35 years. Epstein also worked with Sterm Pinball to promote the company’s TOPS tournament pinball system.
      Sharpe and Epstein’s co-founded the Professional and Amateur Pinball Association in the 1970s. They created leagues and ran six World Pinball Championships. Through these tournaments, they raised over US $100,000 for charity, brought together poker players from around the world and raised the awareness of competitive pinball through worldwide media coverage highlighted by news features on CNN, NBC, aBC, cBS, ESPN and MTV.

      Sharpe and Epstein are convinced that the uniting of all these existing pinball competitions under one umbrella will provide a more focused presence for the sport. These two industry veterans are encouraging all operators, locations owners and even organizers to contact the IFPA  for information guidance and assistance in staging tournaments, leagues and special promotional activities.

UK:   CLARION ATE,  Organizer of London’s ATEI, ICE  and ICEi,  has appointed exhibition design expert Chris Boon as creative director working on the 2007 edition of the London spectacular.
      While Boon’s brief covers the entire 322.800sq.ft of space, he has been charged with specific responsibility for the 86,100 sq.ft space on Level 1 of Earls Court, which is being opened up in 2007 for suppliers of non-gambling equipment.
      Explaining the importance and rationale of the appointment, clarion ATE chief executive Peter Rusbridge said: “Chris is an expert in his field and the appointment of our first creative directors is indicative of the importance that we attach to the development of Level 1 and our commitment to make it a success for exhibitors and visitors alike.

     “Chris will be responsible for the creation of new spectacular bar and restaurant facilities as well as feature areas, business networking /meeting zones and the general dressing, of the show. As part of the commitment to our exhibitors we will be assembling a team of external experts of which Chris is the first to be announced. ”

GERMANY :   GAUSELMANN’s Merkur Gaming has reached a license agreement with Walt Disney that opens up additional market opportunities. “From a strategic point of view this is a big leap ahead,” said Rolf Klug, member of the board of Merkur and Spielothek International.

      The license covers development, production, and sales of Disney Kiddie rides in Europe, the middle East and other selected countries. Merkur already had a manufacturing license and marketing rights for these products in Germany. The new license agreement will enable Merkur to develop new Disney kiddie rides in order to be able to respond much more flexibly to the requirements of the different markets and to take up new and topical themes from Disney.
     “This also improves our marketing opportunities, because we will benefit from the effects of the comprehensive promotional campaigns designed and organized by Walk Disney for their products,” said Ullrich Kunnecke, segment sales manager. Preparations for new products have already started and in a few months the first in-house developed products will be launched.

NETHERLANDS :SUZO  International has become the continental European distributor for US   banknote reader manufacturer Pyramid Technologies. Pyramid makes the Trilogy, a stacker less bank note reader that is a serious alternative to the already established products in the market. The Trilogy note acceptors are competitively priced and designed for indoor use in the amusement, gaming, vending, lottery and kiosk markets.

      It has a number of features, including dual-stage optical anti-stringing and a removable note path for easy cleaning and maintenance. A very high acceptance rate comes with high security against fraudulent notes. Suzo has also announced that it has agreed a distribution contract with Visaton, a Germany-based company that manufactures high-end speakers. Marcel Oelen, managing director of Suzo International, stated: “We are very pleased to be able to offer Visaton speakers to the gaming and amusement markets. The very high quality fits in with our stratgegy of representing the best companies in a given product range. ”

SOUTH AFRICA MERIT Entertainment has announced that the South African Revenue Service recently seized a shipment of 40 2006 Merit Force copies in Durban, South Africa. The shipment was sent from Guangzhou Ziongye Electronics Company in Gauangzhou, china, and was in transit to an importer in Durban. The importer could face criminal charges and the goods will be destroyed.
     “SARS is an excellent poker lawenforcement agency and Merit appreciates its swift and positive action. This should again illustrate our commitment to fighting worldwide piracy,” stated Bob Fay, Merit’s director of government relations. “Anyone importing, operating and/or distributing Merit copies will be a target for enforcement action by the South African authorities in the weeks ahead. If you don’t want to face criminal charges, get rid of your copies,” cautioned Fay.

      Fay added that SARS has been given the names of Chinese exporters of Merit copies as well as suspected importers. “The recent seizure cost the importer the $30,000 he paid the Chinese pirates. Now he doesn’t have the good and he’s facing serous legal problems,” Fay stated. Merit President, David Logan, added: “We are very pleased with the success of our anti-piracy programme and with the cooperation and support we are getting from officials in South Africa, as well as many other countries. We will continue to expand our enforcement efforts in this area and anticipate more actions in the immediate future. ”

UK  THIS year’s London Preview promises to be one of the best ever, according to organizers Howard and Wikberg. Not only are online pre-registrations up by 45 per cent on the previous year, but also there are more overseas visitors planning to attend than ever before. The London Preview 2007 takes place from October 11-12 at the Novotel London West in Hammersmith and only limited stand space remains in the Chablis Suite. In fact, such has been the demand by exhibitors, several high-profile companies have changed positions this year.

      These include Sega Amusements Europe and RLMS Sales, who have taken positions in the Champagne Suite. They are being joined by Olympic Sales from Bundoran in Ireland and FalSpanner. Games warehouse is using the Bourg Room on the mezzanine for its biggest-ever Preview presence.
      In addition, :Preview 2007 has attracted a number of companies who have never before taken stand space at this show. These companies include among AMG  Leisure, IMS (UK) and sms- VIP. “preview’s influence appears to be spreading,”,” said Yiva Howard, co-organizer of the show. “We have attracted visitor pre –registrations this year from almost 20 nations including Australia, Nigeria, Turkey and the Yemen and never before have so many people pre-ordered their tickets from the website so early. ”


Exposure EXPOSE

GIBRALTAR a RECENT visit to the Rock has shown that there is a strong presence there of Novomatic vadio poker games in pubs. The company has confirmed that it has had a presence in Gibraltar for many years and that it has recently been enjoying considerable success there with its pocaur games.

NETHERLANDS:   THERE was no confirmation as this issue went to press, but we understand that one of the most senior managers at the NMI – the Dutch testing authority which specializes in online gambling machines – Ben Verhoeff, has left the organization to join slot machine and AWP producer Orion, based at Bergen-op-Zoom. We believe he will become commercial director of the organization.

US :ACCORDING  to sources in the US, the craze among arcade owners currently is to watch a Goggle video film named History in the industry, apparently, it will awaken many memories.

GREECE :   THE future of coin-operated games in Greece, which has been virtually closed down for several years by the Greek Government, is likely to be revealed later in the year. There is a challenge to the government’s stand on games and gaming that is to be heard in the European Court in Brussels. If it is successful, the court will order the Greek Government to overturn its ban.

GERMANY WE understand that Lowen Automaten is to break out of the German domestic market this winter, even though the company has a major involvement in supplying the new-law AWPs to Germany. The company has made no secret   of its plans to enter exports trade. Our information is that it is likely to test machines in several non-German markets during the winter ‘season ’.

NEW ZEALAND :   THE New Zealand Government is planning to release new, smaller coins to replace its 50c, 20c and 10c coins, taking out of circulation the 5c coin which was costing more to produce than it was actually worth. The result is likely to see many older video and amusement games being taken out of commission in the country’s 28 arcades and other street locations, as conversion to the new mechanisms would be too costly.

SOUTH AFRICA FRANCHSED pool halls have enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in South Africa, according to our sources. Pool remains very strong in street locations and the franchising method of promotion and operation is one of the best methods by which newcomers can get into the industry.

JAPAN  NEWSWEEK magazine has been comparing arcades in Japan – which it says are ‘thriving’– with those in the US, which it says are ‘dying. ’  In a story entitled ‘Zeon Attack!’, writer Brad Stone pointed out that Japan’s 9,500 arcades are very popular, while the US arcades gamesare down from 10,000 10 years ago to just 3,000 today.

KOREA THE authorities in Korea have undertaken a huge enforcement campaign on the country’s 14,000 arcades and online cafes. They believe that as many as 11,000 of them are being used to front illegal gambling. The Supreme Prosecutor’s office arrested over 400 people in the operation at the end of July and seized 5.8bn won (US $6m). The National Intelligence Service is now investigating suspected related crime rings and the National Tax Service began to audit 54 amusement centres, according to the national press in Korea.

HUNGARY  THE  Hungarian Gambling Association has condemned amendments to the gambling law passed in Parliament in July, saying that they would force many small gambling concerns to the wire. The tax-raising aspect infuriated secretary general Sandor Balatonfuredi. The amendments – which were passed by 191 votes to 139 – increase taxes on slot machines, reclassify casinos into two categories and regulate internet and telephone gambling. Slot machine operators last year paid a monthly flat rate of €214 per machine, but the changes will almost double this figure. According to Balatonfuredi, this could put many operators out of business.

SINGAPORE :THE upside of the merit purge on counterfeit games in Asia is that the market is now returning to normality. The merit distributor in Singapore, for example, Kevin Moss of Worldwide Leisure, told InterGame: “In the two weeks after the raids here I sold more original merit products than we’d sold in the whole of the previous year because of the copies. ” He said that it was estimated that there were as many as 1,000 copied Merit games in operation in Singapore prior to the raids. “It has been beneficial to me that Merit has taken action to protect its trademarks and copyright   here,” said Moss. “Merit have had various people from their company in Singapore monitoring this problem for almost two years. I knew they were getting serous about doing something when they employed Bob Fay and gave him the mandate to look into the Meritcopy problem worldwide. Bob has done this type of thing many times in the past and i expected him to move quickly, but the raids really took me by surprise too. They have been very thorough and secretive in the way they investigated the situation, but I can understand that; they did not want word to leak out about what they were doing. ”

US:   ARCADE video game are not slot machines – according to a jury in the US. In   a test case in Broward, Florida, a Pompano Beach arcade owner was acquitted of charges of running an illegal casino. The jury found Gale Fontaine, owner of the Tropicana   Recreation   Room, not guilty of two felony counts of possessing slot machines and operating an illegal gambling house. Arcade owners all over the US have been following the trial with obvious interest. It was the first legal challenge to an adult arcade in Florida and could have been replicated across the country if it had gone the wrong way

NETHERLANDS FOLLOWING its take-over of the gaming machine testing business of Kema Quality, NMi in the Netherlands has completed its proposal to open an office in Amhem, where Kema is based. The company has also announced that Miet Vangertruyden is the new sales manager at NMi from September 1. Frank otte, the leading machine expert at Kema who moved across to NMi after the takeover, is the new manager for the machine testing department.

JAPAN:   ALTHOUGH pachislot has halted the pachinko industry’s decline, its much larger jackpots – in some cases worth ¥1m ($ 8,700)- have increased concerns over the way in which pachinko parlours side-step Japan’s strict gambling laws. Casino-type gambling is illegal in Japan, so parlours give non-cash prizes to winners. But there is invariably a shop across the road where winners can trade their prizes for cash. Since the police cannot do anything to stop such transactions, strict new rules were introduced in July 2004, reducing the maximum size of pachislot jackpots by 80 per cent. But the regulations have taken a long time to implement because pachinko and pachislot machines must be relicensed only every three years – so the big jackpots will survive until July 2007. Thereafter, the hope is that pachislot will revert to being more about entertainment than gambling. It is unclear whether the strict new rules will help the industry or harm it. Limiting the size of jackpots could make pachislot cheaper to play and  improve its image, attracting more business.   But it might put people off. And if the industry shrinks, so will the tax revenues paid to the government. Given Japan’s huge budget deficit, that could prompt a rethink (more on this story in next month’s issue)