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Wednesday, 31 October 2012 00:37

Cashiers and sweepstakes parlors don’t mix

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The upscale tourism and second-home community of Cashiers hopes to ban sweepstakes parlors, making it one of the first in the region to outright prohibit the pseudo video-gambling businesses that have cropped up in staggering numbers over the past year.

The Cashiers planning council has deemed sweepstakes operations incompatible with the community and have asked Jackson County commissioners to amend Cashiers’ land-use regulations to outlaw sweepstakes. 

One sweepstakes parlor made a fleeting business attempt in Cashiers, but there wasn’t the right clientele to support it. It lasted about a month before going out of business this fall. 

“There are some places sweepstakes appear to fit in better than others,” Jackson County Planning Director Gerald Green said. “The one in Cashiers wasn’t making any money and (the planning council) felt it was out of character with the area.”

The owner of the failed establishment reportedly encouraged the Cashiers planning council to support the ordinance outlawing his business so he could get out of his lease.

Cashiers is not an incorporated town, but it has special status as a planning district and its own set of commercial development guidelines. Ultimately, changes to the ordinance will be decided by county commissioners.

While sweepstakes operations are detested by many, few if any towns or counties have actually banned them. Along with Cashiers, Jackson County is home to one of the only other communities in the region that doesn’t allow sweepstakes — the U.S. 441 highway corridor leading to Cherokee. 

The U.S. 441 corridor, known as the Gateway area, is a 3.5-mile stretch of highway leading to the Cherokee reservation. The county adopted planning ordinances for the area more than three years ago.

Controversy erupted this summer when county planning officials discovered two sweepstakes operations had popped up along the highway and issued them a warning.

“It’s not a witch hunt,” said Green. “There are plenty of them here. There are just some places people feel they are inappropriate.”

Although the sweepstakes parlors are not explicitly prohibited along U.S. 441, they are not explicitly permitted either — causing confusion over how to deal with the situation.

The property owners where the two sweepstakes are located along U.S. 441 have since petitioned to let Double Deuces and the Winners Circle stay where they are. Sweepstakes parlors didn’t exist in North Carolina four years ago when the U.S. 441 land-use regulations were created, so naturally they didn’t appear on the list of allowed businesses at that time. The property owners renting to the sweepstakes parlors hope to have them added.

Shortly after the sweepstakes conundrum on U.S. 441 came to light, the Cashiers planning council voted to explicitly prohibit sweepstakes gambling parlors in the community. 

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