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Pikeville considering new rules on Internet cafes

By Dennis Hill
Published in News on November 6, 2012 1:46 PM

PIKEVILLE -- Residents of the town of Pikeville will have a chance to have their say about how the town regulates Internet gaming parlors when the town board meets in Dec. 3.

Board members agreed Monday night to hold a public hearing at their next meeting on a proposed ordinance governing the gaming operations.

Pikeville currently has two such businesses. The owners of the businesses were at Monday's meeting to express their concern over the potential strictness of the regulations, but they were assured by Mayor Johnny Weaver that board members would treat them fairly.

But Weaver also said that the town needed to have some ordinance in place since Wayne County and other municipalities have them. He said that without an ordinance, such businesses might choose to locate in the town and that Pikeville did not need to become the hub of Internet parlors in the county because of lax regulation.

The proposed ordinance would require the parlors to be located no closer than 100 feet from a home, school or church. Board member Ward Kellum had said in October that he wanted the board to consider requiring more distance but he withdrew that proposal Monday.

The proposed ordinance would require the 100-foot setback, prohibit the sale or consumption of alcohol, ban people under the age of 18 from entering, require that only the ground floor of a building be used for gaming, limit the hours of operation from 8 a.m. until midnight, provide an unobstructed view of the gaming operation from the street, be no closer than 500 feet from any other Internet gaming business and limit the number of machines to 30

It also would give the board the right to require a parlor to provide security if there is any trouble requiring law enforcement intervention.

And it calls for each business to pay an annual license fee of $2,500, as well as a $500 annual license fee for each machine.

That requirement drew comments from the owners of the town's two parlors, who said the amount was excessive and could force them to close.

Weaver assured the owners that the town was not trying to run them out of business and noted that they would have a chance to speak at the public hearing.

In other business, the board voted to buy a new heating and air conditioning unit for the town hall. The town hall, now housed in a mobile home, has been a point of discussion for some time, with the board considering various options, including buying property for a new town hall. But in the short time, with only one of two units working, the board decided to replace one at a cost of $6,179.