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Murfreesboro reduces hours for Internet cafes

MURFREESBORO – A quick public hearing was held at the most recent Murfreesboro Town Council meeting, but no citizens chose to share their thoughts on the topic.

The hearing was held at the July 14 meeting to consider an amendment to the town’s Internet Sweepstakes ordinance. According to the amendment, any businesses engaged in electronic gaming operations activities would only be able to operate from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. six days a week, and no operations would be allowed on Sundays.

The previous hours allowed the businesses to operate later into the evening and night.

Mayor Hal Thomas read the amended section of the ordinance and called for comments, but no one in attendance chose to speak. The council members did not have any discussion about the proposed amendment either.

Council member Jay Revelle motioned to approve the amended ordinance, and Council member Sarah Wallace provided the second. The vote was unanimously in favor.

The change in the ordinance was originally requested by Murfreesboro Police Chief David Griffith. He spoke to the News Herald on Thursday to explain the need for an updated ordinance.

“I, along with many other North Carolina police chiefs and sheriffs, share very similar opinions on Internet Sweepstakes, cafes, parlors, and business centers,” said Griffith, noting the variety of names these operate under. “There have been many counties and cities that have outright banned them.

“Our goal is to keep our citizens safe and in no danger,” he continued. “At our previous establishment, we saw an increase in calls for service.”

Those calls ranged anywhere from robberies and larceny to trespassing.

“Many, but not all, occurred during the night hours,” Griffith pointed out. “Our goal in reducing the hours of operation directly correlates with keeping our citizens safe.

“We have no intention of shutting a business down. We just hope that by reducing the hours of operation, we can attain our ultimate goal of citizen safety,” he concluded.