City Council up against a wall it cannot scale

September 20, 2012 

Macon’s City Council on Tuesday attempted to curb the scourge of video gaming machines. While it placed limits on the number of machine in a location and will require them to be out in the open instead of in a back room, those measures, along with monthly reports, will do little to curb the cancer video gaming machines have become.

The problem is not the number of machines or whether they are out in the open or not. The problem is store owners paying cash rather than merchandise for winnings. None of the measures installed by council will do a bit of good. We applaud, however, its effort. It’s not council’s fault the state Legislature allowed the machines back into the state. The effort to lift the ban was led by then state Rep. David Lucas. Certainly the state Department of Revenue likes the taxes paid on each machine, but the havoc they reap, not only with people with addictions and their families, but the machines corrupt the political system wherever they land. South Carolina was smart enough to kick the industry to the curb as it saw the corrosive impact of what is legalized gambling -- or Las Vegas East.

A moral argument can’t be made against the machines by state lawmakers. After all, the state has a monopoly on gaming through the Georgia Lottery. Lawmakers should consider fully opening Pandora’s Box. It’s full of pari-mutual betting, casinos and video gaming machines. They should also stop playing wink, wink, nod, nod and allow cash payments. They might as well. There’s no way police can enforce the laws on the books. Even these new restrictions are next to impossible to enforce. The store owners who are breaking the law by paying cash will still break the law. The profit margin is just too lucrative to resist.

-- The Editorial Board

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