Carthage Delays Action on Electronic Gaming
Carthage residents who hoped for a resolution to the electronic gaming controversy came away disappointed Tuesday night after the town board voted unanimously to delay the matter until next month’s meeting.
“We have to be very careful when we do this voting,” said Town Commissioner Catherine Graham, “because we have unique circumstances.”
Businessman Reid Greene, who is interested in opening a business commonly known as an Internet cafe, opened the discussion by acknowledging the niche had gotten a bad reputation.
“But I promise you mine would be a top-notch place,” he told board members. “I want to have something nice, that my grandmother and mother would be happy to go into. I have no problems paying a tax.”
The cafes typically use terminals to sell long-distance telephone time and high-speed Internet service. When you buy that time, you’re entered into a sweepstakes. The machines then use games or other methods for revealing winners.
Last month, Whispering Pines commissioners unanimously passed an amendment allowing gaming in its “neighborhood shopping district” with an amendment limiting them to no more than one within 500 feet of any residential dwelling.
Other towns, such as Aberdeen, seek income from the currently popular pastime with high privilege taxes and other fees. Aberdeen’s law gives an exemption to nonprofit operations like fundraisers put on by churches, civic clubs and other such organizations.
Similar “games” like the Monopoly promotions offered from time to time by McDonald’s are seen by some as gambling but have remained untaxed and legal.
Others told the Carthage board they didn’t think the gaming businesses represented the town’s best interests.
“I don’t think that’s a really good indication of the town,” Carthage resident Matt Fried said. “You board members have been given a sacred duty, and it’s my humble request that you zone this out of Carthage’s city limits.”
The commissioners debated the proposal at length. They discussed possible tax revenues as well as the social effects of allowing gaming.
“These places are aimed at the poor or underprivileged,” said Commissioner Milton T. Dowdy. “If you get too much gambling in, people get desperate, and don’t have money. … This is very troublesome to me.”
Even if the board were to ban gaming, it might later be forced to reverse its decision, pending a review now under way by the state Supreme Court.
Besides the gaming issue, the board approved businessman James Jost’s plans to open an indoor shooting range.
The board also reappointed Chris Lassiter and Connie Burns to the town planning board, passed a measure to reimburse board members for their gas mileage, and honored Vernon Kelly for his service to the town.
Contact Andrew Soboeiro at email@example.com.
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