Burgaw leaders approve the use of internet cafes

Reported by Max Winitz - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

PENDER COUNTY, NC (WECT) -Sweepstakes parlors are popping up across the nation, providing customers a legal way to win some extra cash.

Tuesday morning Burgaw's leaders decided to allow internet cafes and sweepstakes parlors to operate a stretch of routes 117 and Highway 53.  The vote came after the town attorney said commissioners could be sued if they said no.

Commissioner John Wharton said he'd like to see how some current court cases play out on the legality of the businesses before he would succumb to the idea.

"The program here seems innocuous, but it can go to extremes," said Wharton.

If owners decide to bring their businesses to the streets of Burgaw they will have to follow a very strict set of rules outlines in ordinance 2009-37:

  1. Hours of operation shall be strictly limited to between 8 am and 10 pm, Monday-Saturday and 12 pm to 10 pm on Sunday.
  2. Alcohol sales shall be prohibited.
  3. All food served and/or distributed by the establishment must receive prior written approval from the Town of Burgaw Building Inspections Dept.  Any non-prepackaged food that is served or distributed must be inspected and approved by the Pender County Health Dept.
  4. Maximum daily cash payout shall not exceed $600.  Winnings which exceed this amount shall be paid out in the form of check.  All establishments engaged in internet and sweepstakes operations must comply with all reporting requirements regulated by the Internal Revenue Service.
  5. Any building and/or zoning permits issued for internet and sweepstakes operations shall be subject to annual review (from date of approval from Town of Burgaw Board of Commissioners) to insure compliance with all relevant regulations and conditions.

According to the town's planning administrator, some rules that other municipalities have implemented won't be in place in Burgaw.

Administrator Chad McEwen said the board withheld the recommendation for a buffer requirement for places of worship, civic buildings, and things of that nature.

Owners will still have to make a case in front of the town's planning board, but if they agree to follow all the rules Burgaw may soon become the sweepstakes center of Pender County.

The first business owner who would like to open an internet cafe will make his case to the planning board Jan. 15.

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