Centerville seeks to tighten regulations for gaming machines

Telegraph correspondentNovember 6, 2012 

CENTERVILLE -- Businesses featuring coin-operated amusement devices are one step closer to coming under more stringent regulations.

Centerville City Council heard a first reading Tuesday of a new ordinance dealing with such machines in an effort to better regulate video poker and similar gaming devices.

Council called for the new ordinance last month.

Councilman Jonathan Nichols commended the new measure for going as far as it does but said he still wished regulations could legally be made stricter and that such devices could be outlawed entirely.

The new ordinance is patterned after a similar Warner Robins ordinance. However, the Centerville measure allows fewer machines per business, only six, which was the number allowed by the city’s previous policy.

Among other measures, the ordinance will require enhanced video surveillance in businesses with such devices and monthly reporting of receipts. No business owner or operator may derive more than 50 percent of gross receipts from the devices.

City Attorney Rebecca Tydings said the measure could be approved at council’s next session on Nov. 13, and it would go into effect immediately. She said police would allow business owners time to comply with new requirements and would be able to judge if businesses were making good faith efforts toward compliance.

The ordinance states it is due to the “growing problem in communities throughout the country and state of Georgia ... whereby businesses circumvent state gaming laws by using advances in electronic, mechanical and computer technology to allow customers to gamble using veiled schemes.”

Mayor John Harley told council members he has been told legislators will likely be looking into tightening up the state’s own measures against such amusement-gaming machines in the coming legislative session.

In other business, council agreed to donate $1,000 toward a static F-15 display to be installed at the Centerville-Warner Robins exit on Interstate 75.

Council previously declined involvement in the F-15 project, spearheaded by Warner Robins.

Councilman Ed Tucker said he reintroduced the matter after a conversation with Warner Robins Mayor Chuck Shaheen, who told him he hoped the display’s dedication could bear both communities’ names.

Also Tuesday, at the request of Councilman Randall Wright, council agreed to donate nine Christmas pole decorations to Pitts, Ga. Wright said Fitz, located in south Georgia, had no decorations and the nine being donated were more than 20 years old and being replaced by new ones.

Contact Michael W. Pannell at mwpannell@gmail.com.

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