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Rowan County sheriff shuts four sweepstakes cafes

The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office has issued cease and desist letters to four area sweepstakes cafes following changes last year allowing law enforcement to criminally charge those operating sweepstakes.

Chief Deputy David Ramsey said the letters were issued a week ago for some of the establishments whose owners, like other cafes in the state, kept finding “loop holes” in the law.

He said law enforcement officials have had their “hands tied.” The businesses sell time or cell phone minutes on computers that look like slot and video poker machines. The purchase of the time allows the user “free” sweepstakes entries. The agency issued letters to the following establishments:

• Internet Sweepstakes Cafe, 5625 South Main Street, May 27

• Internet Cafe, 958 Webb Road, May 27

• Lucky’s Sweepstakes, 15585 U.S. 52, Gold Hill, May 27

• G.B.’s Internet Cafe, 410 South Salisbury Ave., Spencer, May 29

In 2006, North Carolina lawmakers passed a ban on video poker and all other electronic gambling. Sweepstakes games were introduced, which prompted a change in legislation banning them in 2010. Two years later, the Supreme Court upheld the ban.

However, sweepstakes owners have said a new “pre-reveal” software that shows the winners before they play the game, keeps them in compliance with state law.

Some of the businesses close and return in a different form including arcade games while others across the state have filed various lawsuits citing their Constitutional rights were being violated.

Ramsey said officials will continue to send letters to sweepstakes cafe owners. Those who don’t voluntarily close, will be charged and their equipment confiscated.

Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.


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