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Alabama Town Hikes Up Video Gaming License

15 October 2002

ALABAMA – As reported by the Huntsville Times: "The City Council jacked up the price of a video gaming license Thursday night from $50 per machine to as much as $750. License costs go up sharply starting with the fifth machine.

"Councilman Glenn Watson, who sponsored the rule change, said he hopes it scares away some of the 'casinos' lining Memorial Parkway. It will certainly gnaw into their profits. Before, you could set up a 20-machine arcade for $1,000 in city licenses. That's jumped to $9,250.

"…Watson estimates the move will raise $700,000 a year for the city.

"…There are an estimated 800 video gaming machines in the city, many at Elks lodges and American Legion halls. But Watson said the fraternal clubs he's visited have only a handful of machines. They would continue to pay $50 per machine under the ordinance.

"Brian Skipper, who owns Players' Paradise on North Parkway, said Monday the city would collect less in sales tax and license fees if the increase was approved.

"…Video gaming has turned into a big business in Huntsville. Winning players are supposed to get gift certificates, which they can redeem at stores such as Wal-Mart.

"But council members said it smells an awful lot like gambling.

"…Councilman Richard Showers cast the only vote against the fee increase, saying it makes it appear the city is endorsing gambling. He said the council should hold off until the state Supreme Court decides if video gaming machines are legal in Alabama…"

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