WRAL Investigates

Lottery warns retailers about gaming

Posted March 23, 2010

— The North Carolina Education Lottery has sent warning letters to retailers who operate video gaming devices.

Lottery director Tom Shaheen said that any retailer convicted of a felony or gambling offense would have his or her license to sell lottery tickets revoked.

The letters were issued as municipalities crack down on so-called "sweepstakes cafés."

The businesses, which are sprouting up in strip shopping centers across North Carolina, sell players blocks of time to play games of chance on computers or cell phones. The odds are long, but players who win can get a cash payout.

House Speaker Joe Hackney said lawmakers will likely move to outlaw sweepstakes cafés when the 2010 session of the General Assembly opens in May. He said the businesses are trying to get around the state's 4-year-old video poker ban.

The gaming industry argues that there's a clear distinction between sweepstakes cafés and video poker parlors.

Cities have begun adopting zoning rules to control the proliferation of sweepstakes cafés.

Rocky Mount City Council on Monday approved zoning regulations for the businesses and instructed planning officials to look into enacting even tighter controls in the coming months.

The restrictions, which passed by a unanimous vote, bar new sweepstakes cafés from opening within 500 feet of schools, churches, residential neighborhoods or other gaming parlors. They don't limit hours of operation or set a minimum age limit for customers.

Many of the cafés are open 24 hours, and a few allow children as young as 14 to enter.

Wilson also has enacted restrictions on sweepstakes cafés, and Wilmington and New Hanover County are looking to follow suit.


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  • Hip-Shot Mar 23, 2010

    "I am very pro Lottery and think that we should open the door to all types of gaming but the Lottery giving out a warning is a little much!!! "

    The state hates competition.

  • One 4 the Team Mar 23, 2010

    As the ole saying goes "be careful what you ask for, you just might get it."

  • readme Mar 23, 2010

    Gambling should be legal. It is an individual choice, not the choice of my government. Be carefuly what freedoms you choose to give up that don't affect other poeple because you are morally opposed to them. One day something you want to do will be against the law.

  • no contest Mar 23, 2010

    If the government can't tax it, regulate it or profit from it, then it must be against the law.

  • csplantlover Mar 23, 2010

    Gambling is gambling - whether it's blackjack, bettin' or bingo.......it's all wrong and I wouldn't waste one red cent on this moronic state. I would rather throw my money out on the street knowing what kind of garbage would swoop it up. Any extra hard-earned money I have goes right into the collection plate where I KNOW it does good and not EVIL. People are blinded by this voodoo and any way they can justify its ill gotten gains seems to be looked on with a blind eye. Shame on NC.......

  • corey3rd Mar 23, 2010

    kinda like Al Capone warning people about taking the tags off their pillows.

    Gambling is gambling. The lottery guy just needs to admit he's trying to keep his monopoly on fools burning their cash for "education" and a few powerboats to certain lottery folks.

  • drh3102 Mar 23, 2010

    I am very pro Lottery and think that we should open the door to all types of gaming but the Lottery giving out a warning is a little much!!! Sounded stupid to me. Besides I didn't know that the Sweepstakes cafe sites sold Lottery tickets. Never been in one to find out.

  • colliedave Mar 23, 2010

    just tax the winnings

  • luckn4u2 Mar 23, 2010

    Here we go again, if a legislator doesnt have his hands in the pot, then out it goes, such as the internet cafe..Im sure the NC State lottery commission is ticked off because it takes away from some of there monie's..But then again,just wait until November when the Democrats running for office will all take a backseat,that even includes you Bob Etheridge,Mr Yes man...

  • jas1022 Mar 23, 2010

    The NC guvment is about as screwed up as they come!