Lawmakers want new gaming machines removed from metro Kroger stores

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Some metro Atlanta Kroger stores now have gaming machines inside sparking concerns from some neighbors and lawmakers who want them gone.

Kroger said that those machines benefit the HOPE Scholarship.

They don’t pay out cash, but some are worried about the message they send.

Johnson went to a Kroger location in Loganville off Highway 78 where shoppers have different opinions about the machines.

“All these kids and there’s some guy over there rolling the slots?” shopper Dewey Brown said.

The machines showed up within the past few weeks.

“I don’t really care one way or the other, but it wouldn’t be my preference,” shopper Kim McMillan said.

They don’t award cash - only gift cards.

Among the critics is South Fulton state lawmaker Debra Bazemore.

“We want them totally removed out of the store,” Bazemore told Johnson.

She said she’s met with Kroger executives after her constituents reached out about the machines in the Kroger on Old National Highway.

“When you have people checking out they see the machines right there, they just got their money back, enticing,” Bazemore said.

Johnson contacted Kroger for an explanation and a spokesperson sent a statement, saying:

“Kroger has been granted licensing to operate Coin Operated Amusement Machines (COAM) at several stores in Georgia, which will provide additional funds to Georgia’s HOPE Scholarship and Pre-K Program. Kroger aims to offer a safe, well-lit, convenient, and inviting place for shoppers to engage with COAMs, providing a best-in-class experience for Georgia residents.”

Gwinnett state lawmaker Marvin Lim sent a letter to Kroger about the machines in the Singleton Road location near Norcross.

He said in part, “Kroger wishes to prey on diverse and/or under-resourced communities.”

Bazemore said the hope is that all the machines are removed.

“I am for giving our children more money to be educated but you have to do it in a proper way,” Bazemore said.

Johnson requested a list of all the locations with the machines and has learned that 23 stores have them across the state.

Kroger said they’re committed to safe and responsible gaming.

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