Sweepstakes Parlors Proving to Be Problem in North Carolina

Police in Archdale, North Carolina recently raided a sweepstakes business, seizing illegal gambling machines — this after having warned the parlor to stop its sweepstakes operations three months ago.

“As a result of recent court decisions, we are asking for your cooperation in regards to ceasing all Electronic Sweepstakes operations within the city limits of Archdale. In the event you fail to comply, the owner(s) and operators will face criminal charges,” said a letter that the police department sent out. “In the event you have been charged and convicted of the initial misdemeanor charge, the next charge will be a felony.”

Sweepstakes are typically games of chance, like random drawings, online instant win games, or scratch and win cards, but since they’re a form of gambling, there are a myriad of different laws and regulations surrounding them.

In 2013, North Carolina’s Supreme Court upheld a law banning sweepstakes cafes. According to the American Gaming Association, these sweepstakes cafes are “carefully designed to take advantage of state sweepstakes laws and to avoid state antigambling laws and gambling licensing restrictions,” and “earn more than $10 billion a year with games that closely mimic the experience of traditional slot and video poker machines.”

This isn’t the first time the police have shut down sweepstakes cafes in North Carolina, either. Police in Curry County seized a whopping 163 illegal gaming devices and a staggering $28,507 in over three searches as recently as May 8.

In an effort to stop these illegal cafes, federal prosecutors have reached an agreement with five large video sweepstakes companies, which will require them to stop providing gaming software to hundreds of Internet cafes in the state, effectively cutting the parlors off at the pass.

According to the statement, the companies have agreed to cease their operations in North Carolina by July 1. In exchange, the office of U.S. Attorney Thomas Walker, who oversees the Eastern District of North Carolina, won’t prosecute the owners of the software companies for past illegal activities.

Until that time, it seems police will have to raid the parlors to put an end to the illegal gambling dens.


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