Loading...
 

Georgia Supremes weigh liquor sales, coin-operated amusement machines in industry's legal battle against Clarkston

More than 40 stores have joined video-gaming case

Forty-two Circle K convenience stores have hopped into a Georgia Supreme Court battle between the video slots industry and the tiny city of Clarkston over eight-bit one-armed bandits, liquor sales, and millions of dollars in gambled cash. The court's justices heard arguments in the case on Tuesday morning.
?
? The stores, some in Atlanta, care because they want two things under one roof: the familiar business of selling six packs and bottles of wine, plus the somewhat less-widespread business of video slots. 
?
?In some of those 42 Circle K-affiliated shops you can already play some games —  technically known as coin-operated amusement machines, or COAMs — when you pick up some alcohol.  
?
? The other stores don't have COAMS, according to a brief the shops filed together with the Music and Amusement Operators Association, the industry group representing game owners, at the state Supreme Court.
?
? The stores are interested because, if the Supremes side with Clarkston, other cities and counties could pass a law requiring the two types of sales be separate. And that ain't good for a business worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
?
? ??? In 2012, Clarkston passed a local law, as part of its alcohol ordinance, saying stores can either sell packaged alcohol or or have games such as COAMs, but not both. It was meant to discourage loitering and open-container violations, Clarkston's attorney Stephen Quinn told the court. That is, hanging around in convenience store game rooms and using the shop's refrigerator case as a huge mini-bar.
?
? Then, in 2014, the state overhauled regulation of COAMs statewide, and even had the machines hooked up to a central database to scrape off an honest percent of revenue for HOPE educational programs.
?
? And a few months later, Clarkston officials cited Aster Gebrekidan for selling beer and wine in her Star In and Out Mart, where she also had COAMs. Her laywer, Paul Oliver, appealed the city ticket to DeKalb County Superior Court, saying Clarkston's law illegally limits COAM operations.  DeKalb's court disagreed, so Oliver appealed to the Supremes.
?
? Oliver on Tuesday told the justices that Clarkston's ordinance is not just a regulation of alcohol and that it illegally interferes with his client's legal COAM business. The justices, inscrutable behind their desk, kept fairy quiet, save for Justice David Nahmias.  He prodded both sides saying he was trying to figure out the right test to use on the law.
?
? The 42 Circle K shops, as well as foes and friends of COAM alike, must hold their breath for a few months as the justices deliberate.
?
?
?
?
?




[Admin link: Georgia Supremes weigh liquor sales, coin-operated amusement machines in industry's legal battle against Clarkston]

Spider for Georgia Supremes weigh liquor sales, coin-operated amusement machines in industry's legal battle against Clarkston