Georgia House Approves Gift Cards for COAM Game Winners |
ATLANTA — Georgians playing coin-operated amusement machines (COAM) could receive non-cash gift cards under legislation passed Tuesday by the state House of Representatives.
The gift cards would help the Georgia Lottery Corp., which oversees COAM machines, better track an industry that has been plagued by illegal cash payments to winners, said Rep. Alan Powell, R-Hartwell, lead sponsor of the bill, to the legislators of the House. .
“It will end all illegal trade,” he said.
House Bill 1424, which passed 100-67 Tuesday night, would also increase the value of prizes awarded by so-called “children’s games” from $5 to $50.
And it would exempt fraternal and veterans organizations from having to comply with a requirement that retail businesses installing COAM machines derive no more than 50% of their revenue from the machines. The 50/50 rule applies to convenience stores, restaurants and other retailers.
Although often considered a son-in-law of the lottery, COAM machines brought in $4.5 billion in Georgia last year, with the state receiving 10% of the proceeds to support the HOPE scholarship programs and of pre-kindergarten.
Rep. Stacey Evans, D-Atlanta, who voted against the bill, argued it wasn’t enough.
“It’s serious money, and our kids need it,” she said.
Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur, suggested a higher take for the state could be negotiated in the COAM bill as it passes the Georgia Senate.
Indeed, a different version of the COAM reform approved last week by the Senate Committee on Regulated Industries called for the lottery to receive 30% of COAM revenue.
However, that legislation did not reach the Senate floor on Tuesday, the Crossover Day deadline for bills to pass through at least one legislative chamber to stay alive for the year.
This story is available through a partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.