WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Sweepstakes cafés are not exactly hitting the jackpot lately. Wilmington City Council is considering tougher regulations on them, and the state may decide to ban them all together.
Many state and local lawmakers are not happy some business owners found a way around a 2006 law that banned video poker in North Carolina. That's the big reason for a push to regulate sweepstakes cafes or put them out of business for good.
"With the economy the way that it is, we need businesses opening up," said John McFalls, who works at a sweepstakes café in New Hanover County. " We don't need to be shutting things down."
Tuesday night, Wilmington City Council moved closer to adding gaming parlors to the list of businesses the city can regulate. Those regulations may include keeping sweepstakes cafés at least 500 feet from churches, schools, daycares or other similar gaming businesses.
"It's almost like selective prosecution," said Leo Daniels, who owns a sweepstakes café. "They're picking out one business, and they're looking at that. They don't look at the whole picture that we're providing jobs, we're providing entertainment for the people. They just look at 'Let's get rid of them because we don't like them.'"
Wednesday McFall's second day on the job at the Triple 7 Sweepstakes Café on Market Street. His unemployment ran out, and he was looking for work for months. He says cutting these cafés is not right.
"Instead of just thinking about what's best for them, make a fair decision," McFalls said.
Daniels said, "They put us under the same umbrella and think we're all the same. What they need to do is go around to the different places, see the places that are shady and get rid of those and leave the legit companies alone. Let us do business and provide services to the community and all live together in a happy family."
If the state decides to do away with the cafés McFalls says he'll be out of work again.
"I guess I'm back to square one, back to the drawing board," he said.
The state Senate has already approved a ban on sweepstakes cafés. The House was debating its version of the bill Wednesday.