Instead of venturing to Vegas, many people are gambling right in their backyards at internet cafes. As you might imagine, controversy is brewing.
Brunswick County has several of these internet cafes, but they are not necessarily welcomed. Mayor Alan Holden said, “They’re popping up like mushrooms all over Brunswick County.”
But they are not popping up in Holden Beach, at least not yet. Holden Beach is one of the only towns in southern Brunswick County where you will not find sweepstakes cafes, which are homes to online gambling.
“This is a family beach and most of the people who live here are not interested in the gambling-type facilities at Holden Beach,” said Mayor Holden. “We do have the accommodations for our zoning but we are re-evaluating that at this time.”
Because Holden Beach cannot prohibit someone from opening a sweepstakes café in town, Mayor Holden said the town plans to tighten ordinances, like limiting the number of electronic machines and whether a sweepstakes café can be built near a school or church, in hopes owners will choose to do business elsewhere.
Gina Caserma opened Gold Strike Internet Sweepstakes a month ago just outside of Holden Beach in Supply. She is worried about what new regulations will mean for her.
“Just what the county’s going to do, what the state’s going to do – that’s my biggest (concern). The regulations and stuff, they can make their limits we can follow that, but the biggest worry I have is getting shut down,” Caserma said.
But for Mayor Holden, the hope is to keep the cafes out of town to begin with. “I’m sure all the people involved in that business are good people and the people who do it are good people, we just hope they enjoy other places more than they would Holden Beach.”
Ocean Isle Beach, Shallotte and Calabash are also in the process of changing their ordinances to regulate sweepstakes cafes.