At long last, old pool hall laws to be stripped from the books

By Jason Hawk -



Finally — those loathsome, burdensome laws about Amherst’s pool halls are about to be repealed after 55 years.

The city’s many, many, many billiards parlor owners are crying out in relief this week as city council prepares to strip its horrifically oppressive regulations on how late you can shoot pool.

Since 1962, they’ve struggled under heavy-handed local ordinances that have kept their businesses closed from 2 a.m. to noon on Sundays.

They’ve also pinched every penny to pay the neck-breaking annual license fee of $10 for the first pool table and $1 for each additional table.

The same set of laws has strapped the fees to bowling alley lanes.

In 1963, council added more laws to the same section, prohibiting anyone under the age of 18 from playing the sinful and addictive game or “to be and remain in such saloon or public place.”

All kidding aside, nobody’s enforced those laws or paid those fees for decades.

But officials, prodded by councilman Joe Miller, are expected to vote Monday to get rid of the restrictions. Miller said they’re “no longer relevant” and the repeal would help tidy up Amherst’s law books.

Assistant law director Frank Carlson agreed. In fact, he said the old pool hall and bowling alley legislation could cause problems.

“Whenever you have legislation that regulates certain businesses in one way and other businesses in another way, you’re raising constitutional issues,” he said.

And mayor Mark Costilow said the license fees are so low they wouldn’t be useful anyway.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.


By Jason Hawk