Concerns Rise As Kroger Introduces Gaming Machines In Georgia Stores

Georgia residents are voicing apprehension over the recent introduction of gaming machines in Kroger grocery stores. The popular chain has initiated a pilot program to install these machines in select locations, sparking concerns about their potential negative impact on the community.

Reported by Fox 5, the gaming machines are designed to dispense prizes and require coins to initiate play. However, unlike traditional gambling machines, players do not receive cash for their winnings. While Kroger sees this as a harmless form of entertainment, residents in the South Fulton area, where the machines have been introduced, are expressing worry.

Felicia Conn-Payton, a local resident, said, “I think it’s a bad image for our neighborhood and on this side of town. I’m trying to figure out why this store was selected.”  

She also stated, “Upgrade the store and that will probably increase the revenue here. That’s what we are looking for. We’re not looking to have gaming slot machines inside a grocery store where families are trying to shop for groceries.” 

Many citizens, along with business and political leaders, view the introduction of gaming machines as an exploitative tactic by Kroger to generate profits. This sentiment is particularly poignant in the South Fulton community, where a majority of the population is Black. 

South Fulton Councilwoman Natasha Williams Brown has taken action by reaching out to Kroger’s corporate office to address concerns about potential “unwanted behaviors” associated with the machines.

“You introduce machines that have a history of inviting unwanted behaviors into the community and causing problems, illegal payouts,” Williams said. 

In response, Kroger has emphasized that its intention behind introducing the slot machines is not to disrupt the community. Additionally, they stated a portion of the earnings generated from the machines will contribute to Georgia’s Hope Scholarship program. Kroger also assures that the machines will be placed discreetly within the stores.

Furthermore, according to a Kroger representative, “The locations of the coin-operated amusement machines were chosen with our customers’ convenience and safety in mind. They were placed in partitioned areas of the store that are not visible from the outside and are separated from store traffic. 

The Kroger rep added, “Additionally, we are excited to bring additional support to the lottery-funded Hope Scholarship Program, which provides scholarships and grants to nearly 84,000 Georgia youth annually.”

Despite the potential benefits associated with funding the Hope Scholarship program, elected officials remain steadfast in their advocacy for the removal of the gaming machines. 

For them, the perceived risks outweigh any potential rewards, prompting ongoing efforts to address community concerns and ensure the well-being of Georgia residents.

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