NC video sweepstakes ban begins Thursday

Posted January 2, 2013
Updated January 3, 2013

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— A state Supreme Court ruling goes into effect Thursday that clears the way for law officers to enforce a ban on video sweepstakes. Despite a 2010 law banning the games, Internet cafes that pay cash prizes turned into a multi-million dollar industry.

State Attorney General Roy Cooper says he doesn't anticipate widespread Internet café raids across the state on Thursday. Enforcement will likely vary across the state depending on the discretion of local officers and district attorneys.

WRAL News found many businesses are already shutting down, but at least one high profile location plans to test the limits of the law.

Management at the Royal Palace Theatre in Roanoke Rapids has moved out games that don't comply with the law, but new games will take their place.

WRAL News obtained a letter from Roanoke Rapids City Attorney Gilbert Chichester describing what is called pre-reveal software that shows a prize before a customer even plays. His opinion is that it doesn't violate the law.

Royal Palace management say they will follow the law with new software. The sweepstakes industry filed for a stay with the U.S. Supreme Court last week. The court has not responded yet, so enforcement is cleared to start Thursday.

The attorney general wouldn’t speculate on what's legal and what's not, although he said he believes the state Supreme Court ruling that upholds the sweepstakes ban will be much harder to side step.

“We haven't been consulted on that particular issue. (It) sounds like we may be,” he said.

Theater owners say sweepstakes games important to business plan Theater owners say sweepstakes games important to business plan

The Roanoke Rapids situation is unique since the city owns the long troubled theatre. Mayor Emery Doughtie says the new management is "like a Godsend" and that the machines they installed have become "very important" to recent success.

"The last thing we want to do is close down,” he said.

That’s exactly what was happening at a sweepstakes café on South Wilmington Street in Raleigh. The video poker machines were dark and the computer terminals gone.

Owner Rudolph Morton said he was “devastated” and more than frustrated to see his employees and revenue axed by the recent court ruling, but he's not willing to risk breaking the law.

“We decided to shut the doors and just see what happens,” he said.

Morton says he'll let others test the sweepstakes ban.

“If they can find a way that we can operate legally, then that's what we're going to do. But, we're going to operate under the law,” he said.

A spokesman for Gov.-elect Pat McCrory said Wednesday that McCrory "respects the Supreme Court's decision."

"Law enforcement can now begin to enforce the law with clarity. (McCrory) looks forward to reviewing this issue in greater detail after being sworn in as governor this Saturday," the statement continued.


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  • Terkel Jan 4, 2013

    "....I simply want the Gov to fund a universal healthcare system" GU

    Govt doesn't fund anything. Taxpayers do.

  • Terkel Jan 4, 2013

    "...as it takes advantage of people with bad decision making skills and little will power." GravyPig

    Agree with your post. I know this isn't what you're saying, but I'll add that just because some people will be taken advantage of does not equate to "govt interference is necessary". Otherwise used car salesmen, realtors, and those who whine for "he'p buying diapers" would all be out of work.

    Hmmm....let me ponder this a little further, I may have seen a flaw in my original opinion.

  • Terkel Jan 4, 2013

    "Maybe instead of whining about there not being enough grocery stores in SE Raleigh... these "business" owners can open some grocery stores instead."

    The business owners weren't whining about grocery stores in SE Raleigh. The entitlement crowd was. Which dog is yours?

  • rocket Jan 4, 2013

    "The take in amount verses pay out is a rip off to those playing. The math shows long term, you'll lose."

    That's how gambling works. In the long run the house always wins. However, nobody is forced to play. There are already laws against fraud. If we enforce those I don't see a need for additional regulation. Not that it matters now.

  • Rebelyell55 Jan 4, 2013

    @wildpig777............Your most likely right about overall losing. That's why if they were going to keep em, they needed regulating. Since they're not going to do that, they need to shut them down. The take in amount verses pay out is a rip off to those playing. The math shows long term, you'll lose.

  • wildpig777 Jan 4, 2013

    North Carolina Cutie: I took my lunch hour to play and turned $40 into $150 in less than 30 minutes.

    Now let's see how many of those against it go and try it out ...lol== LOVE

    now tell us the rest of the story-- how much have you lost over the yrs-- i guarantee you have lost far more than you have ever won.

  • wildpig777 Jan 4, 2013

    NOW IF WE CAN JUST GET RID OF THE lottery..... and ABOLISH THE LOCAL ABC BOARD SYSTEM, nc has zero bizness in the selling of alcohol it should be privatized. like bc/bs for all state employees --it is one of those SACRED CASH COWS.

  • Lovemy2kids Jan 3, 2013

    North Carolina Cutie: I took my lunch hour to play and turned $40 into $150 in less than 30 minutes.

    Now let's see how many of those against it go and try it out ...lol

  • rocket Jan 3, 2013

    Grand Union, have you ever seen a new law or tax that you didn't like?

  • 68_dodge_polara Jan 3, 2013

    "I stand by my statement. Libs hate it when your spend your own money as you see fit. why do you think they are always trying to redistribute it."

    That's because Libs don't see it as your money but instead as money the guverment has allowed you to keep.

    "You didn't build that."