Brunswick County officials will try to define "Sweepstakes" businesses

Reported by Laura Sinacori - email

SHALLOTTE, NC (WECT) - Town officials in Shallotte say they have seen a huge increase in potential business owners pursuing Internet cafes or sweepstakes businesses within the last few months.

Al Willis opened up a sweepstakes business in Shallotte a few weeks ago. So far he says business has been good.

"With the economy the way it is, it seems to be doing good," said Willis. "And people want to get out and play. It gives them something to do other than the things they're offered now."

Local officials are now trying to find ways to classify and regulate the businesses.

"It is difficult," said Allen Serkin, the town planner for Shallotte. "So we're trying to define them rather broadly so that we can try to capture any use or similar use under the same umbrella."

The businesses are currently being treated like retail shops when they are given permits, but they aren't selling products. According to owners like Willis they are selling Internet phone time that customers can use to play the machines.

So now, Serkin and other Brunswick county officials are drafting up ordinances. But, they say it could be several months before the ordinances can be enacted.

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