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City may update pool room rules
New ordinance would add annual fee, prohibit alcohol
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Gainesville may change the way pool rooms operate in the city.

A new ordinance, which gives a more detailed definition of a pool hall, would add a $100 regulatory fee per year for the operation of a pool room.

The city last updated the ordinance in 1999, said city marshal Debbie Jones. Gainesville City Council members will vote on the changes at tonight’s council meeting.

“It was a little vague in some areas,” she said. “It now includes no blacked out front windows, no alcohol on the premises and no one under 18 is allowed.”

Under the new definition, a pool room contains more than two pool or billiard tables, and the proceeds from the machines must make up 50 percent or more of the revenues for the business.

“Machines that are coin-operated must meet certain state laws,” Jones said. “The ordinance requires the owners to have records on hand for inspection by the city marshal’s office.”

It also requires more background checks for owners and operators.

“As of last month, there are currently no pool rooms in the city,” Jones said. “One closed on Atlanta Highway last month, and it could be an excellent place for another one to locate. We decided to update this to eliminate a lot of questions. It had potential for some issues.”

The same Atlanta Highway location had problems in the past with the alcohol ordinance, said Mayor Pro Tem Danny Dunagan.

“There was a problem a year or two ago with brown bagging,” he said. “Hopefully this will clear it up.”

The ordinance prohibits pool rooms from allowing gambling games that use dice, cards or
dominoes to award checks, tokens or tickets that can be redeemed for merchandise or cash. Pool rooms also cannot open on Sundays or between midnight and 6 a.m. on weekdays.

“Most pool halls are not allowed to have alcohol, and I hope this will address the problems we’ve had,” said Mayor Ruth Bruner. “This is typical throughout the state to have these restrictions.”

The ordinance will not regulate organizations that contain a billiard table as part of a youth activity area, which do not operate the tables for revenue, noted council member Bob Hamrick.

“It’s good to address this up front before we have an influx of more businesses,” said council member George Wangemann. “This sounds like a big improvement over what we had.”

When updating the ordinance, Jones contacted several cities and counties across the state to study their pool hall rules.

“About five or six responded with copies of their ordinance, so I looked and pulled and added parts of those,” she said. “We also added a few items that Police Chief Brian Kelly and the building inspector wanted in there to meet our needs. This should clear up any questions.”

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