Local Politics

Luck runs out for employees of sweepstakes cafes

Posted November 26, 2010
Updated November 27, 2010

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— When a state ban on Internet sweepstakes games kicks in next week, luck will run out for the employees of the cafes that host the machines. 

Chris Marion, who runs Crazy Hank's Internet Cafe in Fayetteville, estimated that 10,000 people across the state could lose their jobs.

Marion and his wife started the business, at 6577 Fisher Road, after sales slowed for the former real estate agent. They employ seven people.

"Most of the people who work for us were already laid off from another industry," he said. "They came to us, with a new business opening up. We gave them a job."

Now it looks like the law will force him to close up shop.

"I'll be just one of the millions of Americans on unemployment," he said.

Effective Dec. 1, operation of an Internet sweepstakes game is a misdemeanor. Repeat offenders could be charged with a felony that carries a two-year prison sentence.

The state outlawed video poker in 2006. The sweepstakes machines operated under a loophole that allowed players to pay for time on games that resemble poker and slots. The outcome is based purely on luck. No actions by the player can change the predetermined result.

Bill Nichols sees the games as a great way to kill the day.

"I come in (and) play $15 or $20," he said. "If I win, great. If I lose that $15 or $20, I'm not taking away from my family."

Proponents of the law to ban the machines say they waste both time and money.

"I really don't see them as a legitimate use of time or money," said Phil Forbes. "It just seems to deprive people of hard-earned money, despite the jobs they create."

Karen Lambert, an employee of Lucky Charm Cafe, at 2653 Hope Mills Road, doesn't see the harm to her customers. 

“They come in here to enjoy themselves, to relax, to get away from the atmosphere outside,” she said. 

Lambert said she doesn't have a new job lined up and is bracing to be unemployed “right before the holidays. That’s going to be hard,” she said.

Marion said he'll be lucky if his Internet cafe earns back the initial investment he and his wife made.

When the ban takes effect, he will look for a new small business opportunity. “I guess step back and punt. Come up with a new idea, a new business, try to find a new industry,” Marion said.

13 Comments

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  • hondabyz Dec 1, 2010

    "To all the people who think the computers are the best thing in life wait until your sitting there playing and someone sticks a gun to your head to rob the place, how much fun will it be then? These things are really happening they just dont put it out in the news (bad business) and not only once but several times!

    Are you serious dadsfavorite ? These days you can be in your own bank cashing a check and have a gun pulled on you or better yet be sitting in class listening to your teacher and have someone run in with a gun and hold you hostage. How about in church ? Ever heard of a home invasion ? Guess you havent been watching the news lately. These days you can get a gun pulled on you ANYWHERE !!

  • rkhart Nov 30, 2010

    The state also get't there piece of the pie with the sweepstakes. Just like at Harrah's or the NC State Lottery, anything over $600 you pay taxes. Choice is what this is all about. Some people choose to go to the movies and spend $20 for their enjoyment and some people choose to the sweepstakes and spend $20. None of what is being said is logical to me. If I decide to go to Cherokee and spend $100 that's legal along with the money spent in gas to get there or I can decide to go to one of the corner spots and spend $20 and go home. You may decide to go to the DPAC and spend $50 on a ticket to see some show. Who is the Judge and Jury of what someone thinks is entertainment for them. BIG BROTHER????????

  • dadsfavorite Nov 29, 2010

    To all the people who think the computers are the best thing in life wait until your sitting there playing and someone sticks a gun to your head to rob the place, how much fun will it be then? These things are really happening they just dont put it out in the news (bad business) and not only once but several times!

  • Sherlock Nov 29, 2010

    Can wait of midnight Bamb lock the doors.

  • houtzen Nov 29, 2010

    Proponents of the law to ban the machines say they waste both time and money.

    "I really don't see them as a legitimate use of time or money," said Phil Forbes. "It just seems to deprive people of hard-earned money, despite the jobs they create."

    Mr. Forbes, who do you think you are telling ME how to spend my time or money? I think golf is a waste of time and money but do I tell golfers that they can't do it? NO, because it is none of my business how someone else spends their time or money! I earn my money and I DECIDE how I spend it. Stay out of my entertainment!

  • ncwebguy Nov 29, 2010

    Legislating what is a "waste of time" seems to be a slippery slope. What next?

    Will they ban movie theaters? They are as much of a waste of time as anything else, and they take money out of the economy.

    Freedom of speech is now at the mercy of the whims of the legislature, so why not ban books? It is not a matter of 'if', but 'when'. Amazon has shown it can make any book disappear on their Kindels.

    I feel part of this push is coming from Harrah's by way of the Cherokee. The state should fold these *independent* businesses into the NC Educational Lottery system, and have stiff penalties for non-licenced/regulated machines.

  • fostermargaret120 Nov 29, 2010

    The state is taking away one of the few pleasures I had in life. The state is losing out on potential money as it screws workers and others due to decreased revenue. Sweepstakes was good for tourism too. I almost never lost the little money it required to have a lot of fun and I actually came out ahead financially. I can't afford to travel for gaming anymore. I hope the control freaks behind this action are very pleased with themselves and never need a favor from their broke government

  • qdogg Nov 29, 2010

    North Carolina is too conservative...lighten up state!

  • GoGreen Nov 26, 2010

    lottery, sweepstakes, what is the difference? the whole lottery fiasco is what convinced me that Easley was slime. the hypocrisy of it all.

  • dwr1964 Nov 26, 2010

    Another case of our illustrius government telling us what we can and cannot do. They know what is best for us, and they are really looking out for our best interest. If anybody really believes that, you are looking through blind eyes.

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