MORROW The city of Morrow is about to lay down the rules by which operators of coin-operated amusement machines must play.
The city council is expected to vote July 23 on whether to approve an ordinance that will set new standards for these devices. City code Title 9, Chapter 4, Article C is being completely re-written because of a new state law that went into effect July 1 which allows the gaming devices as long as they don’t give cash pay-outs.
City Manager Jeff Eady said the machines, which have commonly been used as slot machines in the back halls of illegal gambling halls, will have to meet strict criteria.
“A while back, a lot of convenience stores had coin-operated amusement devices that they put in their stores, and many, many establishments were paying out prize money,” said Eady. “That’s gambling and we don’t allow gambling, so all of them had to be removed.
“This was passed by the General Assembly and it says you have to allow coin-operated amusement devices, but these machines are regulated under the authority of the Georgia Lottery Corp.,” he continued. “But most importantly for these machines, there has to be a level of skill, not luck.”
By giving lottery officials regulatory control over these devices, it also means proceeds from the machines will help fund pre-kindergarten programs and college scholarships for deserving students.
One of the proposed new additions to city code is a section that limits the number of allowable machines to six per business. “We can’t disallow them, but what we can do is limit the number per establishment,” said Eady.
There are at least 19 devices covered by the new code and examples include pinball, Skee-Ball, air hockey, foosball, console and claw machines, video games and coin-operated pool tables.
Another new section will make it a misdemeanor to own, use or transport gambling devices. These are the devices which rely more on luck than skill, and offer a monetary pay-out. It will also be a misdemeanor offense to operate a gambling place.
Operators will be required to pay an occupational tax. They will also have to include the name of any other business they own or operate in the city, and which city-issued licenses and permits they already have on their application for a license to operate the machines. A requirement to keep annual gross receipts available for inspection has been added as well.
Violation of the new code article constitutes a misdemeanor offense and could result in the revocation of a business’ license.