The Wilmington city council last night voted unanimously to approve a 90-day moratorium on new or expanded sweepstakes parlors. According to the Star-News, the council will reconvene in June to decide on whether to enact restrictions on the businesses, such as locations, hours of operation, and how much to tax them.
Opponents of the parlors fear that otherwise-frugal citizens will start spending money playing these games instead of carefully devoting it to such necessities as medical care, milk, bread, vegetables, and their electric bills. Supporters of the parlors argue that their businesses are helping fill the massive amount of empty commercial space in Wilmington (a market whose prices have remained startlingly resistant to a deep and lengthy lack of demand), and are providing jobs at a time when the city's unemployment rate is around 11%.
The City is expected to resolve the matter by prohibiting the location of new sweepstakes machines too closely to any churches or schools, then imposing steep fees and taxes on them to help make up for the City's projected $11-14 million budget shortfall.