City ban on alcoholic game prizes won’t be lifted


SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Iowa City city councilors have nixed a move that would have allowed bar patrons to receive such tangible prizes as alcoholic beverages from electronic gaming devices.

During Monday night’s work session, the city councilors decided against lifting a ban on alcoholic beverage prizes from electronic gaming devices.

City Attorney Eleanor Dilkes said Iowa City’s ban doesn’t contradict the state law.

“The city has the authority to be more restrictive, and that’s what it’s doing in this case,” she said.

Approximately seven years ago, the City Council banned gaming devices that allowed winners to receive prizes, including alcoholic beverages.

The 21-ordinance also specifically prohibits the allowance of gaming devices that offer alcohol as a prize in addition to banning two-for-one drinks and alcoholic awards for costume-contest winners.

The issue was brought to the city’s attention in January by Steve Bergerud of Regal Amusements, a company that sells these types of games.

Leah Cohen, the owner of Bo-James, 118 E. Washington St., said the games did very well when they were still legal in Iowa City.

“If it’s allowed by state law, it should be allowed by Iowa City,” Cohen said.

She said she thinks the original reason was to keep alcohol out of reach for people who weren’t 21, but now that Iowa City nightlife has an older crowd, the law seems unnecessary.

She said she thinks gaming devices never caused any problems with excessive drinking, and customers would often use their tickets for food instead of alcohol.

City Councilor Regenia Bailey said she supports the ban and isn’t sure what the motivating factor is for lifting it.

“My concern is that using alcohol drinks as a prize in a game is encouraging irresponsible drinking,” she said.

She said she doesn’t see why the situation would be any different before or after the 21-ordinance, because she doesn’t think irresponsible drinking is confined to those under the legal age.

Councilor Connie Champion said the city had previously made the restrictions on prizes to address serious problems downtown, but now, many of those issues have improved.

She also said she wondered whether this type of restriction should really be up to the City Council.

“I don’t think that because someone gets a free drink at the Moose Lodge, that’s going to turn them into drunks,” Champion said. “I think we’re being too moralistic.”

Bailey said if the council decided to lift the ban, it would be inconsistent with its goal of curbing all excessive drinking, not just for people under the legal age.

Councilor Susan Mims said she was fine with keeping the ban in place.

“There [are] other ways of coming up with prizes people want,” she said.

> Share your thoughts! Click here to write a Letter to the Editor.

comments powered by Disqus

Privacy Policy (8/15/07) | Terms of Use (4/28/08) | Content Submission Agreement (8/23/07) | Copyright Compliance Policy (8/25/07) | RSS Terms of Use

Copyright © The Daily Iowan, All Rights Reserved.