Spin to Win fights back

After receiving 10 citations for violating zoning regulations, Spin to Win has filed a lawsuit in United States District Court to stop what the business calls "continuing illegal harassment" from Norwalk officials. The suit asks for $200,000 in compensatory damages and $2 million in punitive damages for Spin to Win owner David Pugh, business operators Ed and Bonnie Cordle, and James Loyer, the owner of the Water Street property where the business is located.
Norwalk Reflector Staff
Jul 25, 2010

 

After receiving 10 citations for violating zoning regulations, Spin to Win has filed a lawsuit in United States District Court to stop what the business calls "continuing illegal harassment" from Norwalk officials.

The suit asks for $200,000 in compensatory damages and $2 million in punitive damages for Spin to Win owner David Pugh, business operators Ed and Bonnie Cordle, and James Loyer, the owner of the Water Street property where the business is located.

Pugh has been cited seven times. Ed Cordle has been cited twice and Bonnie Cordle has received one citation.

Norwalk Law Director Stuart O'Hara said the city has issued daily citations because Spin to Win has not complied with zoning regulations requiring the business to receive a conditional use permit from the city to operate Tic Tac Fruit machines.

Norwalk police received a complaint about the business Aug. 14 and passed information on to the city's zoning office. The zoning office sent a letter telling Spin to Win to "cease and desist" on Aug. 21.

Spin to Win's attorney Reese Wineman filed the suit in the Toledo branch of the federal court on Tuesday. "As of today, I picked up three more citations in Norwalk municipal court filed yesterday," Wineman said this morning. "Our position is that it's a misuse of zoning ordinances. They've been ordered to shut their operation down."

Spin to Win recently reduced the number of Tic Tac Fruit machines from eight to five because city regulations define an amusement arcade as a business that has more than five coin-operated machines.

City zoning officer Linda Hebert said, however, that just reducing the number of machines does not bring the company into compliance with zoning regulations because regulations also require any business that has a "primary purpose" of coin-operated machines to acquire a conditional use permit in the zone in which Spin to Win is located.

She explained that means that any business in the city could have up to five coin-operated machines as long as the main purpose of the business was not the machines.

"A bakery could have one" without getting a permit, she said, because the primary business is the bakery instead coin-operated machines.

Hebert said the application form for a conditional use permit is available at city hall and also on-line, but no one representing Spin to Win has requested the form from city hall.

The lawsuit contends that Pugh contacted unnamed city officials and was told no application for a license was available.

Wineman said the issue of primary purpose as a reason for restricting coin-operated machines is "a matter of interpretation.

"They've got to live with their own zoning ordinance and that calls for more than five machines," he continued. "It's our position that my clients have been selectively chosen to be prosecuted."

Wineman also said he believes it is not only unfair to Spin to Win, but a waste of time for the police and court officials to handle the paperwork resulting from the numerous citations.

City officials have said that a business such as Spin to Win would be allowed to operate in an area zoned as a manufacturing area, primarily on the northern or eastern sides of town. But Wineman said the business is not considering moving from its current location.

"Moving is not an option at this time," he said. Wineman added that he doesn't believe the location of the business is the problem. "I believe they're attempting to shut them down and I don't believe it's over zoning violations," he said.

"I believe this is selective prosecution based upon the fact that two businesses in more restrictive zoning areas have not been cited and have been utilizing these machines for quite a while."

He added that he believes the timing of the city's efforts to close down Spin to Win are linked to the state's current case to outlaw machines such as Tic Tac Fruit. Proponents of the machine claim it is a game of skill, but authorities consider it a game of chance or gambling, which makes it illegal in Ohio.

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 last month. 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.

The 4th District Court of Appeals in Meigs County ruled that machines such Tic Tac Fruit were games of skill rather than games of chance. The 10th Ohio District Court of Appeals, however, has ruled that a temporary restraining order must be resolved by a lower court.

Comments

KizorSozae (Ano...

Spin to Win preys on people with gambling addictions...these machines are a gold mine for the owners, it doesn't matter that they contribute to divorces, bankruptcies and suicides as long as they get the addict to lose their life savings to them....How about Mr. Pugh get a real job? Perhaps one that doesn't hurt people and their families? How do you sleep at night? And now you want to sue the City of Norwalk (the taxpayers)?? I guess we all know what kind of "person" you are (sorry, I can't use the word "man" for you).

KizorSozae, Jr....

Alcohol leads to the same things you mentioned. The city seems to leave the bars alone. I think this looks like someone from the city doesn't like these people.

KizorSozae (Ano...

Jr: you have a point....it does seem to be pick and choose at times....however the difference with Spin to Win and other gambling sites are those sites are regulated by the state with a large portion of the profits going to charity.....I could be wrong but I'm not so sure this place has contributed the same percentage to charity....regardless of Spin to Win or the American Legion it is wrong either way and causes nothing but grief

JEF (Anonymous)

KizorSozae wrote: (Gambling)contribute(s)to divorces, bankruptcies and suicides..." So does alcohol and then some. Perhaps you'd prefer that Prohibition were brought back? How far should the state go in order to protect adults from themselves?

KizorSozae (Ano...

JEF: No I don't prefer Prohibition be brought back...and the state should not protect adults from themselves, but there are LAWS current for this type of activity and it appears that Spin to Win is not following the LAWS....it seems that the state is dragging its feet and has not or will not at this time close or prohibit Spin to Win so it seems that the City of Norwalk is taking it upon themselves (prompted by taxpayer complaints) to remedy the situation. I'm not saying that what the city is doing is fair but I find it hard to sympathize with these people who are making some big time bucks and playing by their own rules.

ChuckP (Anonymous)

[begin sarcasm]
Your totally right! Gambling does nothing but lead to crime and drug use and divorces and prostitution. I mean, just the other day I was driving down Main Street and seen a couple of hookers in front of the St. Paul bingo hall! What is this world coming to?
[end sarcasm]

My point is that gambling is already legal in this state. Whether it be some form or another of the state lottery or bingo at your local church hall, that is still gambling.

Webster defines 'gamble' as:
1 a : to play a game for money or property b : to bet on an uncertain outcome
2 : to stake something on a contingency : take a chance
How many of us play state scratch offs or other lottery games

How many of us play the lottery JUST to donate money to the schools? How many play bingo JUST to support our local churchs or animal rights groups or other needy organizations? WITHOUT hoping that we win more than we came with? Very few if any, thats how many. Now, how many hookers do you see running around downtown Norwalk hoping to pick up some lucky bingo parlor winner? How many drug pushers sit outside the local gas station waiting for the next big scratch off ticket winner to appear so they can sell an eightball to, or a 1/4 ounce? None. Face it people. Gambling is here. Its been here for quite some time. And you don't see these crimes in the area.

Selectively enforcing laws and prosecuting one establishment while doing nothing to another who is guilty of the same thing is wrong.

AlterEGo (Anonymous)

Kizor, Sr: Gambling is not the issue. These machines are complete legal at this point in time. The issue is with the requirement for a condition use permit. This is an application to a city board asking to allow to have an amusement operation in this particular zoned area. The current city ordinance states if you have more than 5 of these machine you will have to have a condition use permit. However, the city is using the zoning ordinance to shutdown a LEGAL business in the State of Ohio. This is not only a misuse of our taxpayer funds to pursue these people, but it is an abuse of power my the city administration, and possibly the police department.

JEF (Anonymous)

KizorSozae wrote: "... people who are making some big time bucks and playing by their own rules. " A bit of a hyperbole don't you think? I fail to believe that Mr. Pugh and others are making "big time bucks." As long as they pay their proper taxes what's the problem? The city and state could certainly use the money. I'll wager that the pay-out rate is better than the State's lottery con game.

Thank You (Anon...

AlterEGo: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You hit the nail on the head.

swiss family......

i understand that the new solution by the state is to outlaw gameing machines? where you put money into the machine with the hope of winning something for your investment ! well , if thats the case , i guess pool tables in bars will be gone , and so will the lottery machines that are in the drug stores and grocery stores ! you can't have it both ways , if it is illegal for the citizens to play on the tic tac fruit machines , then it should be illegal to put money into the lottery machines as well