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City to study gaming site issue

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Fargo,North Dakota 58102 http://www.westfargopioneer.com/sites/all/themes/westfargopioneer_theme/images/social_default_image.png
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City to study gaming site issue
Fargo North Dakota 101 5th Street North 58102

The lack of gaming at Brad Hemerick’s bar, The Nestor, and his struggles to find a charitable organization to set up there are taking a toll on business.

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So when Hemerick took his concerns to Fargo city commissioners Monday and asked that organizations be allowed more than two gaming sites at a time -- not now allowed -- he was expecting a different response.

“I was hoping for a ‘yes’ vote so this could be turned around for me and others,” said Hemerick, adding that business at the Nestor, 1001 NP Ave. in Fargo, is down 23 percent since charitable gaming left in December.

Though some city commissioners were empathic, none was prepared to change the city’s gambling policy. Instead, they’ll have city staff study the issue and come back with a recommendation.

“I need a lot more information,” said Commissioner Thomas Lane.

Current city policy prohibits charitable organizations from operating at more than two licensed liquor establishments at the same time.

Hemerick said the minimum should be raised to three, if not more.

He said he’s been searching for a new charitable organization to set up a gaming site since but hasn’t had any luck because none are available.

Hemerick said he can’t understand why a growing city like Fargo wouldn’t want to ease up on gaming restrictions.

Not doing so is costing the city, state and the charities “a vast amount of revenue,” he added.

Moorhead’s city ordinance allows charitable gaming organizations to operate up to six sites, or more if the City Council passes a special resolution, according to City Clerk Kay Bucholz.

Fargo’s two-site limit has been in place since 1981, when the City Commission adopted gambling guidelines. The intent was to give all charitable organizations an equal chance to raise money.

City Commissioner John Cosgriff said he understands Hemerick’s concern and hopes something can be worked out soon.

State law allows licensed charitable organizations to operate up to 25 gaming sites or more if the attorney general grants a waiver.

The state gives cities the discretion to approve gaming permits and set site limits.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mary Jo Almquist at (701) 241-5531

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