Judge finds for sweepstakes employee

The ruling is a bit of good news for an industry that has faced a hostile law enforcement environment.

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Sweepstakes cafe
Mark Binker
RALEIGH, N.C. — The sweepstakes industry won a small victory in court last week, according to the Hickory Record

A Catawba County judge ruled that a worker at a sweepstakes cafe was not guilty of violating the state's anti-gambling statutes.

Defense attorney Lisa Dubs told the newspaper that the case is "the first ruling handed down in the state on charges against a sweepstakes worker or owner under the new state law that bans video sweepstakes."

Dubs argued the case Wednesday at the Hickory Courthouse where District Court Judge Amy Sigmon found sweepstakes worker Judy Scronce Sigmon not guilty. The two women are not related, Dubs confirmed.

Judy Sigmon was working at Circle S Depot on Springs Road on Jan. 18 when Hickory police raided the business and charged her and owners Curtis Huffman and Robert Klingensmith with misdemeanor operating an illegal sweepstakes business.

The Coalition for Electronic Sweepstakes, an industry trade group, hailed the decision.

“In our opinion, the court reached the correct decision. Unfortunately, many North Carolinians have lost their job over the last few months due to legal confusion," said Jim Harris of the Coalition for Electronic Sweepstakes.

In December, the state Supreme Court upheld the state's ban on sweepstakes as constitutional. More recently, Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby told local law enforcement agencies that they should start enforcing the ban this month.

On Wednesday, a pair of lawmakers introduced a bill to legalize and tax sweepstakes at the legislature, although it was not received favorably by legislative leaders.

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