City leaders approve gaming amendments with changes

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The Roxboro City Council voted unanimously on Monday to approve adult gaming establishment regulations after much discussion and tabling their decision last month.

Council members approved the ordinance change unanimously on a motion by Council member Mark Phillips.

“Mayor, I make a motion that we recommend approval of the requested text amendment presented in Docket #TA2018-03,” said Phillips.

Council voted to approve text amendment for the Unified Development Ordinance, but council members changed language regulating the hours of operation to give the gaming establishments an extra hour to operate. Council approved rules that allow gaming until 10 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays. Council also raised the minimum age for game players from 18 to 21 and approved changes in the language of the rules to clarify how many people can use gaming stations in a single business at any one time. Under the rules approved by council members Monday night, no more than 20 patrons can be in the facility at any one time in a single business, regardless of the type of machine or if there are other activities taking place inside the establishment.

The text amendments for the Unified Development Ordinance will be effective June 1, as voted by the council, to give city staff time to prepare.

“We will start putting together necessary documents to prepare for those applications as they come in, if anyone approaches you they can get an application, they can turn it in but no decision will be rendered, no review will be done until after that June 1 date,” said City of Roxboro Planning Director Lauren Johnson.

Regulating gaming establishments has not only been a tough battle in the City of Roxboro but statewide as well.

Due to the ambiguity of what’s allowed regarding gaming machines, it leaves municipalities to play this cat and mouse game of whether to allow that kind of business.

At the same time, boards and other municipalities wrestle with not interfering with free speech and a person’s ability to open a business and make a living.

“The one thing the gaming industry has been good about is constantly changing how they are doing things to circumvent rules that local governments put into place,” said Roxboro City Manager Brooks Lockhart.

To avoid the thorny issues of skill, luck, gambling and legality, the council decided to approach it differently.

City staff shaped the ordinance to differentiate between machines that award the player a prize of value and any machine that awards no prize at all.

In the ordinance, general gaming establishments and adult gaming establishments are defined separately.

General gaming establishments focus on machines that award no prize and adult gaming establishments focuses on machines that award a prize.

“All those manufacturing companies games of cat and mouse of changing how the machine works, our ordinance basically ignores that entire conversation,” said Lockhart.

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