Beacon Journal staff writer
The Summit County Council on Monday amended a strict gaming law regulating Internet cafes, sweepstakes parlors and skill arcades in townships.
The council which passed the legislation the same day it was introduced agreed to several changes, including pushing back the deadline for the businesses to apply for an operating license to Feb. 15.
County leaders and attorneys for the businesses had been negotiating possible changes to avoid another legal challenge by the businesses.
The County Council approved the original ''Entertainment Device Arcades'' ordinance last May and it was set to take effect in June in the county's nine townships. But several businesses sued and obtained a temporary order barring the county from enforcing it.
A county Common Pleas judge ruled earlier this month that the law is constitutional, except for the requirement calling for $1 million worth of liability insurance.
The attorneys for the businesses had threatened to appeal unless changes were made.
A major amendment involves the businesses no longer having to provide a certificate showing that their devices comply with the state's gambling law. Instead, they will be required to provide a certificate or report showing that the devices are either a skill-based amusement machine or a sweepstakes game.
Other changes allow the businesses to obtain photo identification of anyone who wins more than $600 as opposed to $10, and permitting them to be open from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday instead of closing at midnight.
The council also removed language involving liability insurance.
The law which regulates places where people go to play games and try to win money also requires that the businesses obtain an annual $1,000 license, submit detailed paperwork identifying the owner and all workers and pay a $200 fee per machine every six months.
Councilwoman Paula Prentice, who pushed for the law, said she expects any businesses that are operating illegally will not apply for a license and close.
She said the attorneys appeared satisfied by the changes. The attorneys did not attend the meeting Monday night and couldn't be reached for comment.
None of the businesses had filed an application by Monday, officials said.
In other business, the council:
• Agreed to give a $75,000 grant to the Summit County Port Authority.
The county provides money to the Akron-based agency each year to support local economic development efforts.
The port authority has been involved in the financing of numerous high-profile projects, such as the new worldwide headquarters for Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., the technical center for Bridgestone Americas and offices for the Austen BioInnovation Institute.
• Approved advertising for bids to resurface and make other improvements to 1.1 miles of Akron-Peninsula Road from Orchard Street to just south of Truxell Road in Boston Township and Peninsula. The project, estimated at $510,000, will begin this spring or summer, said Heidi Swindell, spokeswoman for County Engineer Al Brubaker.
• Agreed to start providing residential building inspections in Lakemore.
The county, which provides building services for many local communities, already has been doing commercial inspections for the village.
• Approved $1.1 million worth of renovations at the county jail.
Cavanaugh Building Corp. of Akron received a $924,000 contract for general and concrete work. Sutter Electric of Akron was awarded a $162,205 contract for electrical work. And Fire Foe Corp. of Girard received a $41,690 contract for fire protection work.
The county plans to rebid the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and plumbing work after Meccon Inc. of Akron was the only company that responded. The company and owner are awaiting sentencing in federal court after admitting bribing a postal architect to secure work.