Unclear future for sweepstakes parlors as ban takes effect
Jan 02, 2013 (The Charlotte Observer - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
A December N.C. Supreme Court decision that upheld a ban on video sweepstakes machines goes into effect Thursday.
But it's unclear whether the sweepstakes parlors that have opened in Charlotte and across the state will be closed -- or whether their owners will find a way to comply with the law, as some have said they will do.
The city of Charlotte said it's monitoring potential legal challenges to the N.C. Supreme Court decision, as well as attempts by the sweepstakes industry to make their machines compliant.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police attorney Mark Newbold said Wednesday that "CMPD continues to investigate complaints on a case by case that various sweepstake businesses are operating in violation of the statute."
Last month, attorneys for two companies that provide the software for the machines wrote a letter to different cities -- including Charlotte -- saying they planned to comply with the ruling.
They said they would convert their machines to a "non-entertaining reveal system." They have said that a state court ruling said that "non-entertaining" software did not violate the sweepstakes ban.
Charlotte City Attorney Bob Hagemann said that it will be CMPD's decision as to how it proceeds enforcing the ban.
He said the department must evaluate how to allocate resources to investigate the sweepstakes parlors.
Sweepstakes parlors sell customers pre-paid cards that allow them to play arcade-like games on computers. Customers can win money, and some games resemble slot machines.
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