Sweepstakes parlor owners hope to benefit from Cherokee deal

Posted November 29, 2011

— As they battle to overturn a state ban on their video-style games, owners of Internet sweepstakes parlors are now eying a proposed casino deal between North Carolina and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

Gov. Beverly Perdue and tribal leaders finalized an agreement Monday that would allow live card dealers at the Harrah's Cherokee Casino and Hotel in the mountains in exchange for North Carolina school districts getting a piece of profits from the new games.

"We would also like for the legislature to look at our industry as well," Brian Henry, treasurer of the Internet Based Sweepstakes Organization, said Tuesday. "We would just like a seat at the table with our legislature to have our industry regulated and have it taxed."

Sweepstakes games, Internet sweepstakes Operators want sweepstakes games regulated

Sweepstakes game operators have been seeking legitimacy from the state for years. A ban on the games took effect a year ago, following an earlier state ban on traditional video poker machines.

Operators argue that the games have predetermined outcomes that can pay off and that players are simply buying Internet or phone time – not gambling. Allowing people to click on computer screens to uncover potential prizes is a marketing tactic, they say.

The state Court of Appeals is now reviewing the sweepstakes ban after a Guilford County judge struck down part of the 2010 law as a violation of the First Amendment and a Wake County judge backed the entire law.

Owners of sweepstakes parlors have adjusted to the legal rulings by replacing casino games like slots and Pot-o-Gold machines with cartoon-style games.

"The new sweepstakes have adjusted their software to be compliant with the new laws," said Chase Brooks, president of the Internet Based Sweepstakes Organization.

Lawmakers are working with Perdue to schedule a special legislative session for the Cherokee gaming deal. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said he expects the General Assembly will approve it.

"The legislature has the obligation in many instances to pick and choose," said Berger, R-Rockingham.

He has voted to ban sweepstakes games and video poker, and he said he's hesitant to deal with the industry again.

"I think it would be premature for us to deal with that until we get a ruling from the courts," he said.


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  • jlu40 Dec 1, 2011

    One of these Cafe's opened up next to the business I run. The majority of the customers can't afford to be there. I am welcomed to my business with empty 40 ounce beer bottles on the sidewalk. Children amusing themselves in the parking lot and sidewalks after dark while parents gamble. One day a customer that owes us money went in and out of there 4 times within 2 hours. To top that off, we had a fight on the sidewalk in front of our business, while our customers watched from inside. This is not like the lottery, this is a totally different demon. A plague on an already stricken society. And furthermore I have failed to see any benefit from the Lottery to NC Schools. If fact in my community the schools are poorer than they were before the so called education lottery started. I have made calls to Mrs Purdue's office inquiring but never get a return call. They need to change the name the "NC State Gov. Lottery."

  • sph224 Nov 30, 2011

    I own my own bakery and one of the Internet Sweepstakes opened next to my business in October. My walk in traffic has decreased by about 25% since then. Smoking is allowed in their "casino" even though they serve free food to their customers. For the owners to say it's not gambling, is like me saying that my cupcakes are calorie and fat free.

  • fayncmike Nov 30, 2011

    It amuses me that government, at all levels, are whining about being strapped for money yet they turn their backs on mega-bucks in tax revenue. Taxes, I might add that would be paid without complaint from the taxpayers. Of course all forms of gambling should be legalized and taxed. Also prostitution and recreational drugs. All of the above is, and always will be widespread so why not control and tax it? Those who choose to gamble, employ prostitutes or use recreational drugs will be able to do so in safety. The criminal elements involved will find themselves out of business and governments will have huge influxes of revenue. Definitely a win/win situation. It's too bad that the tight but- do gooders won't allow it.

  • turbo08 Nov 29, 2011

    rlee: HAHA illgal drugs are ALREADY BEING "TAXED" if you buy a certain amount of marijuana then you are "required" to get tax stamps for them. Wral ran a story about this about a year ago!

  • Rebelyell55 Nov 29, 2011

    November 29, 2011 6:44 p.m.
    ....Illegal drugs are already taxed. IF you get caught with them and don't have a tax stamp, they'll take your property to pay the taxes.
    They are still operating these games, so might as well so ahead and regulate them and get the tax money off of them. It also does create jobs, but with out some type of regulation the owner of these Internet Cafe/gambling video are making a killing right now. Very little pay out.

  • rlee1117 Nov 29, 2011


  • jrfergerson Nov 29, 2011

    Makes one wonder who got padded pocket in this deal.

  • Boogalooboy Nov 29, 2011

    I agree with you all it should be banned but on another note it seems as if this is blatantly unfair that one ethnic group of folks that live together in the state should have more rights than anyone else.... Am I missing something..??? help...

  • wayneboyd Nov 29, 2011

    You're absolutely right disgusted, I'd say you'll see it legalized by 2015 because the way our elected go through money the state will be just as broke again by that date.

  • disgusted2010 Nov 29, 2011

    I think this is great. Next maybe the legislature can legalize prostitution, murder for hire, extortion and other enterprises of organized crime. The only difference between the video gambling industry and organized crime is that the mafia has never hired attorneys to go to court and argue that what they are doing is legal. Goes back to the old saying, "money talks."