COOS BAY — Coos Bay City Council approved a resolution Tuesday night that will lower the fees on little-used local social gaming licenses.
There are only a few businesses that host social gaming and these have been hard-hit by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
Social gaming in Coos Bay refers to small-scale gambling, generally in the form of card games that are hosted in bars. There are fewer than five businesses in Coos Bay that host social gaming, along with a few organizations that sporadically hold social gaming events. Social gaming is distinct from the gaming that occurs in The Mill the Three Rivers casinos, which is more heavily regulated.
The portion of city code that deals with social gaming had not been updated since 1989. City staff recommended the code be changed in order to more accurately reflect the cost of maintaining the licenses. There are background checks involved with the licensing, which contributes to the cost.
The original application fee was $65. In addition to this, businesses would pay a $150 fee each quarter for each gaming table they hosted. Employees and dealers had to pay an additional $25 application fee yearly. Businesses could be approved for one-time special event licenses by paying $25 for each event.
The new fee is $75 per year per table. The employee fee went up to $50 per year and the event fee remained the same.
City Manager Rodger Craddock did not feel that the lowered fees would incentivize more businesses to take advantage of social gaming.
Craddock explained that while social gaming was formerly common in Oregon, several decades ago, it was outlawed across the state. Areas like Coos Bay, which already had ordinances in place to govern social gaming were allowed to continue with the practice.
Businesses cannot profit off the tables themselves, but can profit off the food and drink sold to patrons who use the tables.
The games at local bar Coney Station were paused due to restrictions for the new coronavirus, but will likely resume later. According to co-owner Sandra Jones, the games help her business, though they are only hosted sporadically.
“They do order food,” she said.
The council voted unanimously in favor of making the change.