Proposed Arcade Regs Opposed

OCEAN CITY — Delegate Mary Beth Carozza (R-38C) this week fired off a letter to the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency urging a revision to proposed new regulations that could threaten traditional Boardwalk arcades and other family-oriented entertainment centers across the state.

Last year, the Lottery and Gaming Control Agency proposed new regulations that would apply fees and other regulatory requirements on certain Boardwalk-style arcade games that issue prizes of a certain cash value. The proposed regulations would target arcade games such as claw machines, for example, that offer players a chance to win iPods and other prizes that have a wholesale value of over $30.

The proposed regulations would not target skee ball and other games that issue tickets that are accumulated for the chance to win larger prizes when certain point values are reached. The regulations, if approved, would apply to the defined machines statewide, although their impact would most acutely be felt on the Boardwalk in Ocean City with its historic arcade games enjoyed by families for generations.

Armed with the governor’s support, Carozza said she has heard first-hand concerns about the proposed regulations.

“I personally have visited and talked with several local arcade operators,” the letter reads. “They have told me that, as currently proposed, these regulations would prohibit Boardwalk and other Ocean City arcade owners from continuing their operations as they are permitted to do so today. Specifically under the Skills-Based Amusement Devices section, the proposed ‘minimal value’ and ‘skill’ regulations would have a negative impact on Ocean City’s arcade operators.”

The Greater Ocean City Chamber of Commerce has proposed a way to achieve the regulations’ desired results while leaving some of the Boardwalk arcade machines alone.

“It is my understanding that the Greater Ocean City Chamber of Commerce plans to submit changes to the proposed regulations that would address the concerns of the local arcade operators,” Carozza’s letter reads. “I agree that there should be a separate definition for ‘family entertainment centers,’ which would include the Boardwalk and other Maryland arcade operations. I also support exempting these ‘family entertainment centers’ from certain provisions within the proposed regulations.”