After Court Ruling, Future Unclear for Video Sweepstakes
A video sweepstakes parlor in Robbins will likely have to close following a ruling earlier this week in Davidson County Superior Court.
A judge there dismissed a lawsuit seeking to keep the state from enforcing its ban on Internet sweepstakes businesses. The suit contended new games aren't covered by the ban.
The shop in Robbins, at one end of a strip mall where Just$ave replaced Lowes Foods, is part of a chain operated by International Internet Technologies, and local business owners that had been operating under a temporary order. That company was seeking a preliminary injunction re-straining authorities from enforcing a sweepstakes ban until a judge could make a ruling about the company's new software.
However, Superior Court Judge Robert Johnson allowed a motion Monday to dismiss a lawsuit that two sweepstakes stakeholders in Davidson County filed last week.
The suit asked for a hold on enforcement until courts could rule on modifications to games to remove the "entertaining displays" barred by a statute recently upheld by the state's high court.
In Robbins, the games no longer show spinning images similar to Vegas-style slot machines, but instead only show amounts on deposit, wagered amounts, and wins or losses.
Players at so-called Internet cafes buy Internet time and either surf the Web or play the sweepstakes. The clock only runs on their Internet time when they are actually on the Web, not when playing. ITT software doesn't show much, mostly a blank screen with a bar across the bottom.
On the left it shows the amount deposited. On the right is a "radio button" labeled Reveal. When clicked, it changes to show amounts won or lost or even.
This type of system is called a "pre-reveal" game, but the state contends the entire matter has already been decided in the recent decision by the Supreme Court of North Carolina when its justices upheld the state ban.
Operators tried to stay in business by changing their software. After the high court's ruling late last year, companies who supply the games to operators changed the games to reveal the prize before a game is played, hence "pre-reveal."
Many operators thought that would be one way around the state's ban. Others expect the General Assembly, seeking more revenue to remedy the state shortfall, will find some way to legalize the games and collect taxes from them.
"Now that North Carolina's ban on video sweepstakes has been upheld in court, the Sheriffs' Association is seeking legal guidance on how soon law enforcement offices can resume enforcement of the law," the association itself said. "The Association is requesting advice from the N.C. Attorney General's Office. We expect an answer soon."
Contact John Chappell at (910) 783-5841 or jfchappell @gmail.com.
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