State News

State to appeal judge's sweepstakes ruling

Posted December 2, 2010

— The state is appealing a decision last week by Guilford County Superior Court Judge John Craig that opened the door for sweepstakes games on video terminals to keep running.

“Video gambling should be outlawed in our state, and the courts and the legislature need to give local law enforcement clearer direction so they can enforce the law effectively. Attorneys with my office will continue to defend vigorously the ban on video gambling,” Attorney General Roy Cooper said in a statement Thursday.

Cooper’s office released an advisory opinion in response to Craig’s decision and a ruling by a Wake County judge in a similar case earlier this week. The advisory breaks down what the decisions mean for law enforcement officers and prosecutors. In the opinion, games like video poker, video bingo, keno and lotto are illegal. The opinion leaves open other unnamed sweepstakes games with predetermined outcome that don't require skill.

The General Assembly approved a law in July its supporters argue would close illegal gambling parlors that had used loopholes to get around a 2007 ban on traditional video poker machines and another tweak of the law in 2008.

Sweepstakes machine operators contend the games are entertainment, not gambling. Consumers who visit sweepstakes parlors or convenience stores buy Internet or phone time that gives them the opportunity to uncover potential cash and prizes with mouse clicks on a computer screen.

Multiple media outlets reported Thursday that some businesses that have offered the casino-style games are still open although the ban took effect Wednesday. Owners of sweepstakes parlors contend they are changing the games to comply with Craig's ruling, which found a portion of the ban is too broad and infringes on free-speech rights.

Sweepstakes cafe State appeals sweepstakes ruling

B&G Sweepstakes in Raleigh was bustling late Wednesday with players. Owner Dale Batise said he trusted a software company had updated his game to comply with the law and ruling. He has six full-time workers.

"I'm comfortable," he said. "I didn't want to put my workers out of work."

At Summit Internet Services in Greensboro, casino-style games specifically identified in the law were replaced Wednesday with lighter fare. Games featuring duck hunting and penguin bowling replaced slots and Pot-o-Gold.

"The games we have now really aren't as entertaining," said Desiray McLaurin, Summit's manager. "Some of the customers are saying they are boring."

Players like John Flippen in Rockingham County were having a hard time finding the modified games, too. He tried three sweepstakes shops in Reidsville and one in Eden, but they were all closed. He said he doesn't understand why the state is trying to clamp down on them.

"It's just games," he said. "It's something to spend your time doing. You don't win a whole lot, but it's something to do."

Some outlets said they would close only temporarily while terminals were retooled with new games.

A handwritten sign on the door at the Arcade Internet Cafe in Garner said it would reopen at 8 a.m. Friday. A banner overhead referred to Craig's ruling, saying the games were "Approved by Superior Court Judge."


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • Mugu Dec 3, 2010

    This will give people more ways to spend their money on the first of the month.

  • twood Dec 3, 2010

    People have the right to make choices. Some choose to make unwise ones, and some develop addictions. The reason the Cherokee can have gaming is because they are essentially a separate State within out State (too much to explain) but the games have to approved by the Governor. These video machines that are in question require no skill and are total luck. I don't care if we have them one way or another, but these machines tend to be in poorer areas (black, white, or otherwise) and the poor tend to put a disproportionate amount of income in them...put it this way, you seen one of these places around Carolina Country Club in Raleigh? People can feel free to make dumb choices...and will continue to gamble whether these machines exist or not.

    REALLY??? Evidently, you've never seen "one of these places" because I've been to several, played in several and work in one. We are on the "upper class" side of town and the people that come in here are definitely not poor...they're not on

  • RMT-NC Dec 3, 2010

    If the "industry" wants legal gambling, go through the process to develop it above-board. Businesses that exploit loopholes are not sustainable or desireable.

    The industry has gone through the process & is still fighting for it (willing to give same percentage as lottery). The ones that had the permit stickers did go above board & do it legit. The government wasn't getting enough out of it so they banned it. But we all know that in everything in life someone somewhere is doing something illegal & not above board, even in the government - look at all the crooks in politics.

  • twood Dec 3, 2010

    We as a community have decided that gambling is not in our best interest. The Cherokees, a "sovereign government" according to treaties signed long ago, feel otherwise. Their casino is owned by the tribe, and distributes it's profits to it's membership.

    Where do you think profits with internet sweepstakes go? I work in one...I've seen people put $5 on and walk out with $80. I would say they've made a considerable profit. As for your comment about the "corruption"....your corrupt government legalized the lottery because they get a cut of it. I haven't seen anything corrupt in my place of employment. I've seen very well respected people of MY community relax, play a few games, socialize, have a cup of coffee....doesn't sound very corrupt to me. Seems to me that your community would rather have ABC stores that contribute to the drinking habits of the public who then get in their cars driving drunk and possibly eliminating entire families. In my place of employment, the strongest dr

  • RMT-NC Dec 3, 2010

    How do we know these games are (were)legitimate and above board? At least casinos have some inspection and accountability -- computer server farms in Eastern Europe have neither.

    The video poker machines should have a permit sticker on them from the local Sherrif's department. Each Video Poker business was only allowed 3 per location. Each location was only allowed 3 machines. Each video poker business had to register & buy the permit stickers from the local sherrif departments.

  • ProudBlackSingleMother Dec 3, 2010

    Go to any convenience store and there is usually a low income darker skinned person buying a ton of lottery tickets... said person usually pre pays about $5 for gas and the rest of the $20 bill goes to lottery tickets... they blindly buy them and usually have a hard time deciding which ones to get while the rest of us are in line behind said person get really ticked off.

    Sweepstakes usually warehouses these people so they don't bother us; however, when the money runs out, that is when they come begging from us.

  • prettylady27610 Dec 3, 2010

    The Repubs.are barging saying they won't sign the unemployment extenstion bill because the president and dems. aren't going along with the tax cut, people are hurting they need their unemployments checks. The same old same old, neither party is carers about the average american!

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Dec 2, 2010

    The government in North Carolina only allows gambling (lottery) when the state controls the games and collects all of the profits for the games.

  • whatelseisnew Dec 2, 2010

    Gotta love the Dems. They so enjoy killing jobs. After all an unemployment check does much more for the economy than a paycheck.

  • osocute73 Dec 2, 2010

    face it the gov. is broke and want to find something to tax and get their cut..