Irmo Council Approves Stamp Fee on Sweepstakes Machines
Council approved the ordinance 3-2 in favor of charging a $500 stamp fee on video sweepstakes machines.
Businesses operating sweepstakes/amusement machines in the Town of Irmo will have to pay an annual fee.
Irmo Town Council approved an ordinance to charge a $500 stamp fee per machine.
Only three out of five members voted in favor of the ordinance — Mayor Pro Tem Barry A. Walker Sr., Harvey Hoots and Paul Younginer.
Mayor Hardy King and councilwoman Kathy Condom voted against the motion.
Condom at first abstained but later agreed to vote against the motion.
Both Condom and King said they couldn't vote in favor of the ordinance because they agree with law enforcement that the machines are illegal.
The machines can be found in convenience stores in Irmo and West Columbia, and across the state.
Users of the machines purchase Internet time or phone cards and are given a chance to play different games like poker.
Walker proposed implementing the stamp fee as a way to make businesses "think twice" about operating the machines.
Walker has said that he wasn't trying to make it easy for businesses to operate the machines, but if they did they needed to pay the town.
King said the stamp fee approval doesn't mean Internet cafes can now operate in town.
He said if someone wanted to open a cafe they couldn't because a zone hasn't been determine for those types of businesses, which he said is to the town's benefit.
The Irmo Planning Commission had recently discussed zoning districts for the video sweepstakes machines but decided to take no action.
Walker said he didn't care if a cafe wanted to open in the town and didn't know of a lot of requests to open any.
Town administrator Bob Brown said two people have been turned away who wanted to open the cafes in Irmo.
Irmo isn't the only governing body addressing the machines.
Richland County and the City of Columbia have discussed or banned the Internet cafes.
In other business, council approved the following items:
- The 2012-2013 budget totaling $4,466,492. The budget includes a $40 increase for trash collection. The town will continue with zero mills for property taxes.
- A resolution ratifying budget amendments for the 2011-2012 fiscal year.
- Purchase of fitness equipment from Bliss Products in an amount not to exceed $10,000 for the Veterans Park.
- First reading of an ordinance exempting non-profit organizations from a business license.