Aside from the legislative lengthening of the duration of the moratorium, Columbus City Attorney Richard C. Pfeiffer, Jr. is contemplating legal action against these establishments.
By IKE MGBATOGU
COLUMBUS – When it comes to adult gaming parlors and the problems they are causing in Columbus, the city council has this to say to the state: if you won’t do anything about it, we will.
These gaming establishments, also known by their popular monikers, internet cafes or internet sweepstakes, are springing up everywhere in the city largely unregulated.
In these facilities, customers can play a game in a device that operates much like a slot-machine for a chance to win a prize. Apparently, they are able to do that because of a loophole in the state gaming laws.
And seemingly because of that loophole, they are being established in great numbers.
Residents and community leaders are not happy about it. And they have been asking the city to intervene. Recently, the city responded to their complaints regarding the problems that these new adult gaming parlors are posing by extending a moratorium that was imposed on it in October last year.
The initial six month moratorium was imposed by the city council to allow the state time to address the matter in a more comprehensive and statewide manner. But there was no response from the state even as community leaders continue to decry the bourgeoning menace posed by these establishments in Columbus communities without intervention.
Last week, two council members Michelle Mills and Zach Klein took steps to intervene and address their concerns. They co-sponsored a legislation to extend that moratorium by 90 days to continue to send the message against these establishments.
City officials even said they may someday ban these parlors altogether.
“Our goal with the original moratorium on adult gaming parlors was to give state leaders an opportunity to pass a comprehensive, statewide law that will strictly regulate this out-of-control form of gaming,” said Mills, chair of the Council’s Public Safety Committee. “This clearly has not happened so it is up to cities like Columbus to protect our neighborhoods.”
Seemingly, it has not, and community leaders are not happy about the continuing lack of government action to address it.
“Neighborhood leaders continue to contact City Council asking for help to control these unregulated establishments,” said Klein. “Every option is on the table as we continue to vigorously defend our ability to protect our residents from this unregulated form of gaming.”
Aside from the legislative lengthening of the duration of the moratorium, Columbus City Attorney Richard C. Pfeiffer, Jr. is contemplating legal action against these establishments. He said that “nuisance abatement lawsuits” could be brought against these entities for violating current state gambling laws.
Mgbatogu is a freelance writer and editor of Onumba.com based in Columbus. He can be reached by email at Onumbamedia@yahoo.com" target="_blank" title="mailto:Onumbamedia@yahoo.com">Onumbamedia@yahoo.com