Electronic Gambling Approved for Landmark Theater

ROANOKE RAPIDS, N.C. - Roanoke Rapids officials have approved electronic gambling in a city-owned theater in hopes of luring a buyer for the troubled entertainment venue built as a job-creating tourist attraction.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reports Saturday ( ) that city council agreed to allow gaming if the machines occupied no more than 10 percent of the theater. Returns are projected at up to $80,000 a year.

The theater's costing local taxpayers $1.7 million yearly in debt and operating costs.

The city borrowed $22 million in 2005 to build the Randy Parton Theater. It opened in 2007 featuring the brother of entertainer Dolly Parton, but that deal quickly soured. Parton left, and the facility was renamed the Roanoke Rapids Theatre.

The town still owes up to $17 million for the venture.

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