Coin Operated Amusement Machines

Coin Operated Amusement Machines are shown in this 2021 file photo. The gaming machines often found in convenience stores are regulated by the Georgia Lottery Corp.

Rome’s Alcohol Control Commission wants to get a better understanding of the extent of gaming machines tucked away in convenience stores across the city.

According to the Georgia Lottery Corp. website, 102 locations in Floyd County are approved sites for the machines.

An issue is that stores with gaming machines are more often targeted for robbery or theft, Rome Police Sgt. Pete Sailors said.

Stores with gaming machines that are open 24 hours a day often have people, mostly unsupervised, on the machines late at night or in the early morning hours, he said.

To back up that assertion, Maj. Rodney Bailey committed to providing a complete statistical analysis of crime that may be related to gaming machines when the ACC meets in May.

The city has little authority when it comes to regulating the gaming machines; much of that falls to the Georgia Lottery Corp.

“We do have the authority to limit the number of gaming machines at an particular outlet,” City Clerk Joe Smith said. “The Georgia Municipal Association (ordinance), I believe, allows as many as nine.”

The city also can require that gaming machines not be in a back room, as is the case in many of the stores, Smith said.

For some background, state law prohibits the stores from generating more than 50% of their total gross revenue from the gaming machines. Stores that have gaming machines pay a $125 annual license fee per machine.

The law also prohibits any form of cash payout for gaming machine winnings. The redemption awards from the machines can be only for business merchandise or lottery tickets at the location where the game is played. No alcohol, tobacco or firearms can be redeemed.

Stores often skirt or ignore those laws to rake in additional profits and ACC board member John Kendrick questioned if there have been any investigations to determine which stores are paying cash.

Bailey said the GBI gambling unit is in charge of that and the Lottery Corp. has agents who conduct fraud and cash payment investigations as well.

“I am going to inquire about getting some training from them,” Bailey said.

New licenses, sting resolutions

Cod Tail, a new seafood restaurant at 2103 Shorter Ave., was approved for a new beer and wine pouring license. Owner Huang Lin said he is familiar with all the requirements for making sure the restaurant does not provide beverages to underage customers.

Also, the ACC recommended a $1,000 fine and 10-day package sales license suspension for Abul Siddiqui at the Maple Food Mart, 2017 Maple Ave.

A clerk at the store sold alcohol to a minor during a sting on March 10.

Siddiqui said the clerk had been conscientious about checking ID but had a COVID-19 death in his family and was on the phone with family at the time the sting took place.

This was the second violation for Siddiqui’s store in the last 13 months, which resulted in the proposed penalty. The Rome City Commission will act on the ACC recommendation when it meets April 26.

The panel postponed a hearing on an underaged sale of alcohol at the Calhoun EZ Stop, 618 Calhoun Ave., until their May meeting after no one showed up Monday night.

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