Arcade deadline here on Friday

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Demopolis Police Chief Charles Avery says he’s ready to do whatever it takes to follow the letter of an order handed down by District Attorney Greg Griggers.

Friday, Feb. 28, is the final day video arcade businesses in Marengo County can operate, and Avery said he’ll comply with Griggers’ order, even if it means making arrests.

In a letter distributed to arcade owners on Jan. 30, Griggers informed the businesses in Marengo, Greene and Sumter counties that they would have to close down all video arcade machines that pay cash prizes.

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Apparently, arcades in Demopolis plan to comply with the order. Though owners for both Lucky Strike II and Silver Dollar could not be reached Tuesday before deadline, an employee at one of the arcades said she has been told not to report to work after Friday.

The only way an arcade could remain open is if one or a group of owners went before a circuit judge and asked for a stay on Griggers’ order.

Griggers, who was appointed district attorney upon the retirement of Nathan Watkins, believes the gambling laws in Alabama have been skirted for too long. He said that if a judge orders a stay on his order, he will have done his job.

Video gambling machines have been a sore subject around Alabama for the past two years. Some district attorneys have moved ahead with putting and end to the businesses. In other counties, district attorneys have held off on issuing orders because they felt there wasn’t a firm ruling from an appellate court on legality of the businesses.

Upon taking office, Griggers at first said he would wait until a Supreme Court ruling was handed down on the arcades. But after reading an appellate court’s decision, he said he was convinced that these businesses are operating illegally.

The "Chuck E. Cheese" law was put into place for some businesses that offer merchandise for a certain amount of tickets won. It was named after the pizza restaurant that offers young people a chance to play games for tickets. Those tickets then can be redeemed for prizes like stuffed animals and toys.

Along with enforcing the law in Marengo County, Griggers also has to face the daunting task of closing down video arcades in Greene County. Among the businesses that use the machines is Greene Track. Before press time, Griggers had heard of no court motions requesting a stay of his order, though businesses like Greene Track would have until Friday to enter an argument.