State News

Lawmakers ban sweepstakes games

Posted July 7, 2010

— After several hours of fierce debate Wednesday afternoon, the House voted to ban video sweepstakes machines.

The Senate voted overwhelmingly last month to outlaw so-called sweepstakes cafes, which sell customers blocks of Internet time to allow them to gamble online or on cell phones.

The House, which narrowly defeated an attempt earlier Wednesday to send the bill to committee, voted 86-27 in favor of the ban, which would take effect Dec. 1.

The measure now goes to Gov. Beverly Perdue, who is expected to sign it into law.

Entertainment Group of North Carolina, an association of vendors of coin-operated and sweepstakes machines, issued a statement Wednesday evening saying that members planned to look at a possible legal challenge to the ban and other ways to get around it.

"We are certainly disappointed with the vote in the state House," the statement said. "We continue to believe that regulating and taxing video gaming is the best public policy for the state of North Carolina. We will look at all options available to us, including our legal avenues and the advances of technology as we follow the implementation of this law, allowing the industry to continue to do business."

Sweepstakes businesses have sprouted rapidly in strip shopping centers statewide in recent months after court decisions questioned whether the state's 2006 video poker ban applied to the computer-based games.

Sweepstakes cafe Sweepstakes cafes come up empty

Operators contended a ban would eliminate thousands of jobs during the bad economy by getting rid of a game that's only a form of entertainment, not gambling. Opponents argued, however, that the games are designed to get around the video poker ban.

"It's highly exploitative, and we really think it needs to be banned," said Rep. Ray Rapp, D-Madison.

Gaming business owner and industry spokesman Chase Brooks said state regulation of sweepstakes cafes, not another ban, would better serve the state by providing millions of dollars in tax revenue and ending the constant cat-and-mouse game between operators and law enforcement.

"Without regulation, banning it creates an endless cycle of things that will happen," Brooks said. "Manufacturers adjust. They follow the law. They are still going to obey the letter of the law, but there are ways they can look at it. They can produce a new machine for the folks' entertainment."

A study by the North Carolina Education Lottery said regulating the sweepstakes cafes could net the state more than $500 million a year.

Rapp and other opponents said, however, that it was time for lawmakers to stand behind the video poker ban.

"I'm tired of play Whack-a-Mole with this industry," Rapp said. "The North Carolina General Assembly historically has spoken and said its illegal."


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  • sunshine1224 Jul 8, 2010

    Different people play the lottery every single day but b/c it says Education Lottery that makes a difference....NOT! If you gonna ban one, ban all cos gambling is gambling. I dont care how you look at it.
    Whatever way people choose to spend their money, its their choice. No more jobs than we have and i dont see the govt or anyone trying to make any, ppl gonna find some means of entertainment.
    Soon enough the govt will be telling you when to pea and when to eat. Sounds like to me they all are getting things in order for the.....ANTICHRIST!!

  • robzero Jul 8, 2010

    "These machines are all crooked. Glad they showed some common sense and banned them."

    If they are crooked, then don't change them cause I made 4 digits in a few short hours. Even if the do ban them, I have till December and you will still be a loser.

  • tiffanyrich95 Jul 8, 2010

    Personally I do not see any harm in the sweepstakes that have "sprouted" up across the state. To LILTARHEELMOMMY if you spent your 8 hour work schedule working you wouldn't have known how long someone was in there playing. As far as you know they could've been online searching for a that YOU will not have to pay for their bills...Oh and by the way in case you didn't can purchase time to be on the internet for other activities. Do you seriously think that we are suppose to believe that people are breaking into offices with so many patrons in the vacinity? Basically the state is in a deficit and any revenue that could be brought in is a wonderful thing. They should keep them, allow those working for them to keep their jobs and regulate it. The sad thing is with them closing people once again be out of work. If these businesses can bring in $500 million a year then that will help the state out and keep people like liltarheelmommy from paying everyones bills.

  • BubbaDuke Jul 8, 2010

    The only reason they outlawed the sweepstakes is they don't know how to collect taxes on the winnings. Several people I work with have won thousands playing the sweepstakes. I stopped when I was $100 ahead.

    I'm tired of the government telling us what we can and can't do. If people want to gamble away their paychecks, or their social security - that's their business. Doesn't mean they'll get handouts from the taxpayers. If you lose your house due to gambling problems - it was your own choice. Your greed is greater than your common sense - but the government is not a parent or a caretaker. Keep the government out of our pocketbooks and our liberties.

  • liltarheelmommy Jul 8, 2010

    I'm glad they are getting rid of theses places!! We have one near my office and since it arrived, we have had more break-ins, more drug deals, and just alot of nonsense going on outside of our business! I work 8 hours a day and there have been times when I have seen someone sit in there the entire time I was working! Maybe if these people spent as much time looking for jobs as they do in these places, we wouldn't be having to pay for their rent, their groceries, their daycare, and their utilities! THe one near our office has "Business Center" on the outside, and most of the windows are covered. A co-worker went in there to have some documents scanned and e-mailed (since the sign said "business center")and he was told they don't do that. There were just rows of computers and people lined up gambling! Why would they be trying to hide things if what they are doing is legal????? SHUT THEM DOWN!!!

  • Bozo652002 Jul 8, 2010

    Reminds me of the old bupmer sticker, "Don't steal, the government hates competition".

  • moth Jul 8, 2010

    Once upon a time ( 10 years ago in Vegas) I played one of these machines and hit the jackpot.Suddenly the machine reset itself - not at the software level but at the cpu level.These machines are all crooked. Glad they showed some common sense and banned them.

  • smithla2008 Jul 8, 2010

    Hey folks thank the govt for prohibition all over again except with machines. Like the other person said lots of people are addicted to things. I guess big brother wants to save us from ourselves again. BS! Guess thats why theres a ABC store in every strip mall. I dont see people who sit and play these games running over people with their cars while they are doing it. Govt needs to worry about the bigger fish. But thats alright we wont have any fish once the oil gets here! The only people for the people are the people themselves. Its just sad...

  • 6079 SMITH W Jul 8, 2010

    Note to Mr Rapp: The North Carolina General Assembly is made up of individuals who are sent to Raleigh by WE THE PEOPLE. The system is in place so that YOU do what WE say.....not the other way around. I will not debate the moral and legal ramifications of allowing these places to exist. Whether or not these sweepstakes cafes should be allowed should be determined by a majority opinion (remember when that was the norm in this country?) and not by caving in to the vocal minority that has a hissy fit when they don't get their way. I don't personally frequent these places, but if the majority wishes to allow them, and they want to spend their money playing these games, they should be allowed to spend their money as they see fit.

    We broke off from the mother country and came over here to escape the heavy hand of the Church and the King.....(read about it in the history books now, before Texas rewrites that part too.)

  • robzero Jul 8, 2010

    Now we all are seeing how very important we vote next election for our state first. We as a state put these ban crazy, rights removing senators and reps in office and now they can do what ever they want.....:sadface: I'll leave you with a quote from -Ty Webb "This isn't Russia. Is this Russia? This isn't Russia."