ATLANTA – A state Senate study committee created to examine Georgia’s coin-operated amusement machines (COAM) business has wrapped up its work with some recommendations but no specific legislative proposals.
In a final report released this week, the senators endorsed the possibility of awarding gift cards to game winners as a way to discourage cash prizes, which are illegal under state law.
The Georgia Lottery Corp., which oversees the COAM industry, has launched a pilot project that will test the gift cards concept at 100 to 300 locations across the state, primarily convenience stores and restaurants.
Lottery officials like the idea but haven’t committed to it yet because the four-to-six month pilot project hasn’t been completed, Gretchen Corbin, the lottery’s president and CEO, told members of the study committee Thursday.
“Everyone we speak to hopes that it works,” she said.
The report also suggested increasing the revenue the state derives from COAM proceeds but doesn’t recommend how to accomplish that goal.
Options include either increasing the state’s share of the revenue pie from the current 10% or growing the revenue itself by increasing the number of locations with COAM games.
The COAM industry has taken off since the lottery corporation assumed jurisdiction over the machines in 2013.
Georgians spent more than $3 billion during the last fiscal year playing COAM games. 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 state to divide.