Dave’s Arcade opens in Orange, with reduced amusement fee OK’d by Selectboard

By DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer

Published: 08-10-2023 3:36 PM

ORANGE — The Selectboard voted this week to reduce the automatic amusement license fees for Dave’s Arcade for this year to help the operation get off the ground.

State law requires municipalities to charge businesses $20 to $100 each year for every automatic amusement device, which it defines as coin- or token-operated games involving at least some player skill. Pinball machines, arcade games, jukeboxes and coin-op pool tables fall under this category, whereas slot machines do not. Orange set its fee at $100 per machine decades ago, but Selectboard members opted to lower the amount to $400 in total through Dec. 31 to accommodate the new business venture at 5 East Main St.

Dave’s Arcade, which opened two weeks ago with limited days and hours, has 10 machines, which would have cost owner Dave Gray $1,000 in fees before owing the same amount for relicensure in 2024. Selectboard Vice Chair Andrew Smith has undertaken the responsibility of drafting a subsequent fee schedule.

“That will help me out, because it’s not a very big place,” Gray told the Greenfield Recorder after the board’s vote on Wednesday. “But I’m just doing it for the kids.”

He said his machines cost a minimum of $1,200 apiece, with one pinball machine coming with a $2,000 price tag. The arcade is open from 2 to 8 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

“There’s nothing out there for kids. They don’t even have a decent park in town,” he said, adding that his arcade will provide a safe, fun activity. Gray said if the venture takes off he will consider purchasing the former pizza shop next door and installing more machines. He lives in Hinsdale, New Hampshire, and owns a construction company.

Before the Selectboard took its vote, member Richard Sheridan chimed in to say he was not opposed to reducing the fee but worried doing so for only one business would be “opening a can of worms for everybody to cry foul.” He noted bars and restaurants in town pay $100 for every poker and pool machine under their roof. Sheridan said he knows the bylaw requiring $100 per machine has been in effect for decades because he owned an arcade, with at least 20 machines, in Orange for about 2½ years in the mid-1980s.

Brianne Bruso, administrative assistant in Town Hall, told the Recorder that Gray had to restart his permitting process in February, when the project was considered abandoned because the town had not heard back from Gray in several months. Bruso said Gray is up to date on all taxes.

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Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-930-4120.

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