Monday, 05 June 2017 15:59

Commissioners request research of gaming regulations

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Halifax commissioners today directed the county manager and attorney to begin looking at electronic gaming regulations following a presentation from two residents concerned about an establishment being readied for the former Three Lakes Grocery building near Myrick Estates.

The county doesn’t have regulations like Nash and Northampton does, County Attorney Glynn Rollins said.
If zoning amendments are eventually approved, “it will be too late for this,” Rollins said, referring to the Three Lakes establishment of Highway 158.
A conditional use permit issued for the establishment regulates its hours of operation to be Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to midnight, county Planning Director Chris Rountree told the board. There are no Sunday hours. “They want more hours and more days,” he said.
Passion Collins and Susan Watson who live in the area sought help from the board during a community issues portion of the meeting.
Their item of discussion was “to call attention to the Halifax County Board of Commissioners the need to protect residents of Halifax County from electronic gaming or internet cafes within close proximity of permanent residences, churches and schools.”
Their research of county tax maps shows the nearest residence is 111 feet from the establishment. Collins lives 324 feet from the business while Watson lives 2,150 feet away.
The closest existing property line distances are 50 feet.
Oak Grove Church is a half-mile away; Calvary Methodist is seven-tenths of a mile away and Cornerstone Church is 2,797 feet, they told the board.
Their research shows Warren County doesn’t allow internet cafes or electronic gaming anywhere in the Lake Gaston area.
Northampton County doesn’t allow the establishments within one-half mile of a place of worship or recreational area used by residents or a group of homeowners. Northampton has also established a quarter mile restriction for a building used as a residence.
Nash County’s rules don’t allow the establishments in an unincorporated area within 500 feet of a church, school, existing residence, or residentially zoned lot.
Collins told the board people seeking to open the establishments are “taking advantage that we don’t have anything.”
Commissioner Marcelle Smith said he is “concerned about the lack of ordinances on the books.”
He said he wants the county to take a look at what it can do legally, research and come back with suggestions. “There is some concern in Raleigh on how this plays out.”
Commissioner Carolyn Johnson said there “a lot cropping up” in her area.
Commissioner Patrick Qualls said, “Time is of the essence. They’re just pouring through the Hollister area.”
Sheriff Wes Tripp told the board that sweepstakes, internet cafes and internet gaming operations are illegal in the state.
However, there are two software companies which have entered temporary restraining orders against North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement, which is charged with enforcement of the operations.
One of those TROs has been filed in Halifax County. “After constant consultation with ALE we’re beginning to work the software which does not come up in the TROs which means we are going to start aggressive enforcement soon. I believe the only difference in sweepstakes and the educational lottery is the state says one is legal and one is illegal. Both are games of chances, but I’m sworn to uphold the law.”

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