Stallings imposes strict rules for sweepstakes parlors

by Josh Lanier

STALLINGS – Stallings leaders didn’t seem enthused with a recent court ruling overturning a ban on Internet Sweepstakes parlors and on Monday, May 14, commissioners set out to establish zoning rules to allow the town to better manage any potential issues.

Internet Sweepstakes cafes have games similar to slot machines or video poker machines. The state banned such games in 2010, but a N.C. Appeals Court ruled the law was written too broadly. This has sent communities across the state scrambling to come up with ordinances and zoning regulations to accommodate the businesses.

Some Stallings’ commissioners seemed worried the parlors could become a hot spot for police calls.

“We’re the entrance to Union County for many people,” Mayor Lynda Paxton said. “I don’t think that’s the image we want of having these things be the first thing you see when you come into Stallings.”

In Stallings, the Internet Sweepstakes parlors will be allowed only in light and heavy industrial zoned districts and business center districts. The board voted down allowing them in general retail districts where they would be near other shopping centers.

Internet Sweepstakes parlors are categorized as an “adult business,” the same category as strip clubs and adult novelty stores.

The buildings will be limited to 1,600 square feet (down from the suggested 3,200 square feet) and can’t be built or purchased within 1,500 feet of any existing home, church, school, cemetery, day care or non-profit club. The parlors also can’t be within 1,600 feet of one another. And all parlors must construct a six-foot high fence adjacent to the property to block views from the road.

So far, the town has received “a few calls” about the possibility of opening a parlor, but none of the requests could be heard until zoning guidelines were set.

The Internet Based Sweepstakes Organization told the Associated Press 80 percent of the state’s customers are women and 80 percent of them are older than age 40.

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