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Town OKs law restricting video lottery machines

November 17, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

RANSON, W.Va. - Ranson City Council members on Tuesday night passed a law that restricts the location of establishments that have video lottery machines.

Under the law, such businesses cannot be within 1,000 feet of a school, church, park or residential zone, city officials said.

There are five establishments in Ranson that have video lottery machines, and city officials have expressed concern about the proliferation of the games.

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Video lottery games are state-controlled and are similar to slot machines at Charles Town (W.Va.) Races & Slots.

The City of Martinsburg is considering a law similar to Ranson's, which would prohibit the games from being in the downtown business district or within 1,000 feet of a school, church, park, playground or other gaming establishment.

Eighty-two video lottery establishments are in Berkeley County, according to the West Virginia Lottery's Web site. The number is not broken down to include how many are within the city of Martinsburg, and Martinsburg City Manager Mark Baldwin said he does not know how many businesses in the city have the machines.

Charles Town Mayor Peggy Smith said slot machines have not been an issue in Charles Town. Smith said Wednesday night she could only think of one business that might have slot machines.

Ranson Mayor David Hamill said he has a concern about such establishments that are "obviously geared toward gambling."

Businesses that have the machines are required by state law to offer food, but there is no definition of what type of food they must have, Hamill said.

As a result, the food offering often is minimal, Hamill said.

"The emphasis on the machines is obvious," Hamill said.

Video lottery machines pay cash winnings, and were allowed in the state after a crackdown on so-called "gray machines," which were not regulated.

Machines in Berkeley County are in bars, restaurants, fraternal and veterans clubs, night clubs and locally owned convenience-type stores.

Owners must pay $1,000 per machine per year to have them, and the machines must be accessible only by adults, according to state law.

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