Sweepstakes game ban now being enforced

By on January 3, 2013

A sign says State Line is closed for remodeling. (Sam Walker)

Following a December ruling by the state Supreme Court affirming a ban on Internet sweepstakes games in North Carolina, officials plan to begin enforcing the regulations.

The North Carolina Sherrif’s Association told members in December standard guidelines allowed enforcement to start Jan. 3.

More than a dozen of the sweepstakes businesses operate in Currituck County, most within two miles of the state line in Moyock, while several others are located in Elizabeth City.

“We are in the process of making notification via hand-delivered letter to all Internet Cafes and to all business owners who use the cafes as a secondary use that they must discontinue the operation of the internet machines at midnight tonight or face being prosecuted for continuing to operate,” Currituck County Sheriff Susan Johnson said in an e-mail Wednesday.

Dare County and some of its towns have adopted limits on the cafes to prevent the same kind of growth. Generally they call for the machines to be a secondary use in a business and strictly limit them to commercial and industrial districts.

Most have also charged a fee for each machine. Nags Head’s was set at $2,500.

Town Manager Cliff Ogburn said Wednesday that Nags Head will hold off enforcement until the issue plays out in the courts. Machines are at the Nags Head Bowling Center and a gas station and convenience store knowns as Miss Helen’s.

The bowling center closed down last year, and the gas station’s four machines were set to be shut down under a clause in the town’s amended ordinance. Since the store had the machines before the ordinance was changed, it was given two years to phase them out. The store is not under the allowable zoning.

The Supreme Court of North Carolina upheld the ban’s constitutionality last month, issuing opinions in cases filed by makers of the softwear used on the machines, and the operator of several gaming parlors in the Fayetteville area.

Several cafes have opened in Moyock near the state line to draw customers from Virginia, which has banned the machines, as well as local customers.

Users of the terminals pay for time on the Internet, primarily to use gaming sites. Proponents say winners are chosen randomly, much the same as lotteries or sweepstakes promotions by stores and product manufacturers. As such, the machines are not used for gambling, they argue.

Some communities have welcomed the opportunity to collect more taxes and fees.

In 2006, state lawmakers banned video poker machines, but programmers were able to circumvent the law.

The General Assembly updated the statute in 2010, but it has not been enforced while legal actions worked through state courts.

The high court denied a request to delay enforcement of the ban until the plaintiffs could file an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court.

One Elizabeth City gaming parlor operator said he was reprogramming his machines to comply with the new regulations, but city manager Rich Olson said legal documentation would be required supporting that claim if they wanted to remain open.

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January 11, 2013 6:52 am

It’s a fine line actually. They say it is ‘entertaining’ and therefore gambling? If that is really the case then why is the state lottery still going and all the bingo places across the state. I think Bingo is just as entertaining, if not more, than these machines were.

Bob Samuels

January 10, 2013 5:27 pm

I’m with Steve, build a proper casino – BUT, not here! Cherokee has one. What about building it somewhere in NE N.Carolina where the economy is really hurting from the textile and furniture factories closing?


January 9, 2013 8:10 am

Cynthia…maybe those affected will get a better education and improve upon working in a internet cafe.

Cynthia scott

January 8, 2013 4:33 pm

Paper in southern NC stated closing the cafes caused the loss of 6,000 jobs. Nice work Carolina


January 7, 2013 8:08 am

ekim….People gambling for phone cards?


January 5, 2013 9:32 am

You can get biscuit porn & alotto ticket sounds like the state dont want anyone cuting in their action! Hey Chaser how would you know?


January 4, 2013 1:55 pm

Well.. MaDukes… Why not just open up a proper casino… that would bring in thousands of jobs to this area alone… hmmph.


January 4, 2013 11:47 am

These places are sketchy….

ma dukes

January 3, 2013 10:46 pm

The sad part of all of this is the domino effects… at a critcal time in our economy thousands will become UNEMPLOYED…local goverments will loose much needed revenu… utility companies, and other retail shops in the area will loose out. It doesn’t matter if you agree or disagree with internet cafes the question is do YOU have a solution to regaining the revenu the local economy needs?
IBM and other major corporation would never hire a 1/3 of these people, Yet we support giving them major tax breaks to come to NC.

I am just saying

Kevin Gray Conner

January 3, 2013 5:25 pm

So the State Supreme Court rules that a private business or citizen is prohibited under the law to offer gaming devices; yet its perfectly fine for the State of North Carolina to operate a lottery, how ridiculous! I support legalized gambling in this state and I’m tired of government interferring in legitimate business ventures, which in turn destroy job creation!


January 3, 2013 12:02 pm

Really Nags Head? I’m sure if a new law was passed that created revenue you would decide to enforce that law to the fullest. You are not your own state, and to pubically defy the enforcement of the new law should be unlawful itself.

Duke Geraghty

January 3, 2013 10:33 am

I am not sure why this is such a debateable item. They seem to be popular and a boom to businesses. If you do not like them then do not use the machines. It seems there has been a lot of legal capital spent outlawing an activity people want. I was in one in Florida awhile back, got bored and left but they seem to be packed all of the time.


January 3, 2013 10:13 am

It is about time. If it is not gambling, why not sell the software for personal use and allow people to play in the privacy of their own homes. Why is there a need to have a palor or Internet cafe?


January 3, 2013 8:35 am

Typical. Legislation banns games. But the state of nags head says it will hold off to see how it plays out in court. Hmmmm. Sounds like padded pockets will over look a few laws. Maybe the mobile billboard truck owner will be better off putting a few gambling machine in the back of his trucks and parking in nags head. Way to cliff and bob. Lmao

Dare county resident

January 3, 2013 12:37 am

This is why I switched to online gambling and betting along time ago….

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