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Baxter Attorney To Explore Possible Rules On Gaming Machines

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Baxter Attorney To Explore Possible Rules On Gaming Machines

The Baxter Board of Aldermen asked the City Attorney to investigate the legality of gaming machines in local gas stations.

Baxter Alderman Willie Allison expressed concerns over several of these machines at the Shell Station off Interstate 40. He said people coming off the interstate are congregating at the station at late hours to do what he considers gambling.

“From 11 O’clock to one O’clock, the Shell station is packed,” Allison said. “A lot of them are from out of town, and they come here to play these games, and all that’s going to bring is trouble for this town.”

City Attorney Shawn Fry said the city’s best route would be to explore the legality of those machines with agencies like the TBI. The board agreed.

“There are state laws on gambling that are illegal and you can request that the TBI do some sort of investigation to determine if there is some sort of gambling or tax violation at some place,” Fry said. “If you pass a city ordinance to make something illegal, with all due respect on things, your ability to enforce it are pretty slim. You can’t throw someone in jail for it. You can maybe give them a $50 fine.”

Allison inquired if the board could pass an ordinance banning the machines. Allison said the gaming machines were already causing a rise of crime in the area.

“I’ve had citizens talk to me about it, and I’ve seen it myself,” Allison said. “I’ve had employees at this place telling me, I don’t know how to say this without offending anybody, people are going in the back of the building and doing favors for money so they have money to play these games. I’ve heard people are going out to their car and drinking and going back in.”

Fry said if their is illegal activity going on at the gas station then it was the police’s responsibility to enforce existing laws being broken.

Allison said he believed Cookeville had ordinances banning these machines and said if Cookeville can do it, Baxter should be able to legally ban them as well. Mayor John Martin said he believed they need to gather more information.

“We need guidance from a legal aspect before we do a motion and do something we regret,” Martin said. “We should let Shawn pursue this. I know there has been some questions sent to the DA and the DA doesn’t have a problem with it.”


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