Centerville tightens regulations on businesses with gaming machines

Telegraph correspondentNovember 13, 2012 

CENTERVILLE -- Businesses in Centerville with coin-operated amusement machines will have a closer eye kept on them following passage Tuesday of an ordinance tightening regulation of such devices.

City Council unanimously passed an ordinance requiring that video cameras record activity in cash register areas and areas where machines are kept. It also set a limit of six machines allowed in a business and requires monthly reporting of receipts to the city.

Councilman Jonathan Nichols, who initially sought the ordinance, said the measure is aimed at better regulating potential gambling and gaming devices such as video poker.

City Attorney Rebecca Tydings said the ordinance is patterned after a similar one in Warner Robins. However, the Warner Robins measure requires cameras only in cash register areas and allows 10 machines per business.

Tydings said the measure goes into effect immediately but contact will be made with affected businesses to ensure they understand requirements and have a chance to comply.

In other matters during their work session:

• Council began a discussion on whether to pursue forming a downtown development authority or redevelopment authority. Tydings outlined differences between the two for council members and advised the choice between them depended on particular goals the council wished to reach. Members agreed to refine purposes and goals then continue to pursue options regarding developmental plans for the city and its central business core.

• Council discussed Georgia’s coming repeal of a statewide tax on energy used in manufacturing, which goes into effect Jan. 1. Members discussed how the repeal might affect city income and whether to put in place a tax of its own, allowable under the new state plan.

All council agreed not to institute a tax at this time and to follow the lead of county officials to give the matter a year of operation to determine outcomes.

• Council agreed to voice support for efforts to expand Houston County’s landfill.

• Council agreed to enter a loose partnership with Columbia Southern University whereby the university can use the city’s logo and letterhead as one of hundreds of city partners while city employees get discounted fees to the online and campus-based school.

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