Since they first started to pop up a few years ago, American state governments resisted online gambling at internet sweepstakes cafes. Now, North Carolina’s state legislators in Raleigh have promised a new law which goes into effect tomorrow (Wednesday, December 1st) and is intended to permanently close down the Internet sweepstakes parlors.
Law enforcement officials seem ambiguous whether the new sweepstakes ban will be implemented when originally scheduled. Though the law was passed in July, the state lawmakers intentionally used very specific wording to forbid slot and video poker games without hamstringing other promotional sweepstakes offers like McDonald’s Monopoly Game and Delhaize Great Grocery Giveaway. This narrow focus may inadvertently left loopholes open for the continued operation of modified internet sweepstakes cafes.
Wake County Democrat and NC State Senator Josh Stein led the charge for the legislations acceptance. In his opinion “The North Carolina legislature has been clear as a bell that we don’t want these casinos…. Sweepstakes casinos are a real blight in North Carolina. They take money from people when they are at their most desperate.” He believes the law is comprehensive enough to prevent sweepstakes parlors which effectively enable online casinos in the United States from squirming through.
Regardless, spokesman for the North Carolina Internet Sweepstakes Organization and parlor owner Chase Brooks states “The software companies are making adjustments right now…. We will do due diligence to make sure we meet the letter of the law.” He concedes only that “The industry may be down for a few days.” He also asserts that an effective ban will result in 5,800 job layoffs throughout the state.
Earlier this month, Judge John Craig III ruled in a case before the Guilford County Superior Court while video game sweepstakes are in fact protected free speech, the state of North Carolina has the authority to prohibit games that imitate gambling. This ambiguous decision fuels uncertainty whether the gambling parlors will be disconnected tomorrow.
For some operators, such as Joe Hatch, owner of Woody’s Taverns in Cary and Raleigh, the machines are just another form of entertainment and not worth fighting American gambling laws for since “There’s no reward in trying to leave these things on…. It’s another form of entertainment for the customer to use.”
Player Erica DeGusipa, also an employee of B&G Sweepstakes, admits to wagering $20 per week without ever winning. She likens the experience to spending money in a tanning salon stating “It’s relaxing…. People can spend their money however they want to.”