The Cedartown City Commission Monday night denied a conditional use request for Lucky 8 Billiards, which had already opened for business on 511 W. Ave, Cedartown.
A spokesperson, Leanne Schmeck, told commissioners that the business would have pool tables, air hockey and “amusement machines.” Asked for clarification about the other machines, she told commissioners that these were touch screen games.
Some are poker-based machines. Schmeck also explained that the business had a redemption book for prizes that players could choose, and promised that there would be no cash payouts – which are illegal.
There were no residents speaking in opposition to the special use permit for the business. However, city building inspector Bill Ferrell advised commissioners that although the business did not yet have its permit, it was already in business.
“I made a surprise visit today,” Ferrell said. “There were about 30 cars there. There were about 12 of those amusement devices in the back room … people were already playing.”
Schmeck, appearing surprised, told commissioners she was not aware that the business was open. She said she would address the matter with the business manager.
City Manager Charles Akridge reminded Schmeck and commissioners that the amusement devices could not be in operation without the conditional use.
City officials said the business had the proper permits to operate pool tables and such games, but not the “amusement devices.”
The public hearing was held before the start of the commission’s regular meeting. Later in their meeting, commissioners came back to vote on the conditional use permit request.
Commissioner Dale Tuck pointed out that the commission is working on developing a new ordinance that would regulate the “amusement devices.” Such machines have been used illegally for gambling, in which players were paid with cash winnings. Commissioners noted that due to past issues with the machines, they wanted a tough, comprehensive ordinance that would regulate their use.
As for the Lucky 8 Billiards request, Tuck commented, “It seems like we’re getting the cart before the horse.” She added that she would prefer to have an ordinance in place before any such permits are granted.
“I am not prepared to grant their proposal tonight,” Tuck said. “In fact, I’m prepared to make that a motion.”
The motion to deny the conditional use request was seconded by Commissioner Scott Tillary. The to vote to deny was unanimous.