Spin to Win owner cited

Cary Ashby • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:53 PM

Norwalk Law Director Stuart O'Hara plans to have the police issue daily citations to Spin to Win until the East Water Street business gets the proper zoning permit.

The business, which opened last week, is accused of violating the city's general business zoning code for not having the proper permit for eight Tic Tac Fruit machines. O'Hara said bettors put money into the machines and win prizes by lining up pieces of fruit on a video screen.

Proponents say it is a game of skill, but authorities consider it a game of chance, making it illegal in Ohio.

"Basically, (the owner) needs a controlled-use permit to operate the business," O'Hara explained, noting that the machines are the basis of Spin to Win's business.

Owner David J. Pugh, 57, of 32 N. Old State Road, was issued a summons Saturday and charged with operating without a zoning permit in connection with customers using the Tic Tac Fruit machines

"He is being issued one a day until he stops," O'Hara said.

A Norwalk officer said he saw five people using the machines when the business was open late Saturday afternoon. Pugh, according to the report, said he would contact O'Hara about how to apply for the permit.

"From us, he needs a zoning permit," O'Hara said today.

Spin to Win is open from noon to midnight seven days a week.

City zoning officer Linda Hebert sent the business a letter Aug. 21, instructing operators Ed and Bonnie Cordle to "cease and desist operation immediately because the proper zoning permit had not been obtained." Two detectives went to Spin to Win and spoke to one of the operators who showed the officers a letter dated Aug. 24 from business attorney Reese Wineman.

"All three of them have had citations," Norwalk Police Chief Kevin Cashen said, referring to Pugh and the Cordles. There were no telephone listings for the three people who face a $100 fine on each charge.

Starting Wednesday or Thursday, the law director's office instructed police to issue citations "to the person operating the business at the time" in connection with the zoning violations, Cashen added.

"I know it's the city's desire for them to simply follow the zoning code. He can apply for the variance, which to date he has not done," the chief said this morning.

Wineman, Spin and Win's attorney, has disputed the zoning violation, calling the situation a "misapplication of the zoning ordinance." Wineman said last week he believes the local authorities are singling out Spin to Win.

"I believe that there are other businesses in more restrictive business zones which have pool tables and other forms of entertainment that are coin-operated," Wineman said Thursday.

Last month, Attorney General Marc Dann ordered 50,000 of the machines be shut down and sought to overturn a judge's order stopping the state from enforcing a ban on Tic Tac Fruit machines. Dann has argued that if the machines continue to operate, they would lead to neighborhood degradation, gambling addiction, prostitution and other social problems associated with gambling.

However, the 10th Ohio District Court of Appeals has said the temporary restraining order must be resolved by a lower court.

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