Columbus may restrict gaming to I-26 corridor

Published 2:25 pm Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Town of Columbus has asked its planning board to amend the towns zoning ordinance to restrict gaming operations to the towns I-26 corridor.

Columbus Town Council agreed last week to propose restricting those type machines to within 500 feet on either side of the interstate.

The town recently approved new fees for gaming machines, including a flat $3,000 fee plus $2,000 per machine in the business.

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Carolina Thunder owner Kenny Parker told town council last week that he was concerned about the new fees. Parker said that equals $11,000 for his small business that he recently moved to downtown Columbus. He asked for an extension on paying the fees, saying there is no way he can pay such fees in a four-week time frame.

Thats $11,000 for my business which is very, very high that quick, Parker said. By the time payouts come there is very little income per day. There should be a tax on these machines, but not like that.

Other businesses have told Columbus officials that they will take out their machines because they cant pay the fees.

If the zoning amendment is approved, current businesses outside the I-26 corridor who already have gaming machines will be grandfathered and still allowed to have those machines.

There are currently four businesses in Columbus who have gaming machines, including two that are not within the I-26 corridor.

The N.C. Senate has passed a bill banning sweepstakes games altogether. The bill is expected to be debated in the House in the near future (see News Briefs, p. 4).