Internet sweepstakes cafes are popping up all over eastern Carolina and they're raising concerns and prompting some municipalities to take action.
The cafes allow customers to pay for internet time to play casino type games. State law says it's completely legal, but several municipalities say that's only because owners are getting around a loophole in the law.
Kinston's city council voted Monday night to approve restrictions on how internet sweepstakes cafe's operate. Kinston's council decided these cafes could set up 500 feet from a church, day care, and the like. There can not be more than 20 terminals in one given facility, and they can only operate from 8:00 am until midnight, seven days a week.
The controversy over them stems from customers winning money playing casinos style games over the internet. Operators of these facilities, only sell internet time for players to win, which is not against state law. Scott Stevens is the Kinston city manager and says, "We understand these businesses are legal in the current interpretation under the law and therefore, we're trying to make sure in our community we had some control and development of these facilities."
Kinston's city council is also adding an additional amendment to the ordinance to charge each business owner $500 per machine as an annual privilege license. That will still need to be approved by the planning board.