Lawmakers look to cash in on sweepstakes, could hurt city budget - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

New law could hurt local city budgets

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Local leaders are concerned new laws could hurt their budgets Local leaders are concerned new laws could hurt their budgets

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - A proposed bill in Raleigh is getting a lot of buzz.

Sweepstakes cafes have been the talk of the town across the state and that's why many local municipalities started taxing them and requiring them to pay a fee to operate.

Governor Beverly Perdue now wants to cash in on them as well.

Lawmakers are hoping to pass a law that will tax sweepstakes at both the state and county level, but some local city leaders think the state is dipping into the wrong cookie jar. For some, the numbers just don't add up when it comes to new rules for sweepstakes cafes.

"That would take money out of the city's projected budget and revenue," said Wilmington City Councilwoman Laura Padgett. She's talking about the state's proposal to cap city fees to the cafes at $500.

Representative Susi Hamilton said the bill will help all levels of government with the highly controversial businesses.

"What this legislation will do is allow the counties and the states to collect and the cities will continue on with what they have been doing," she said.

The city of Wilmington currently charges anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000 per machine. The cap of $500 could hurt city budgets across the state, including Wilmington.

Padgett is concerned. She said this is not the first time the state has tried to step in and change what local cities mandate for local business. If Perdue gives the bill the approval, Wilmington could find itself looking for ways to fill a budget hole.

Hamilton added there are a number of other concerns when it comes to sweepstakes cafes. She noted the fact there is no age limit as to who can go in and play. There are also no rules forbidding customers from bringing their own alcohol into the establishments.

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