Under the Dome

Embattled Internet sweeps company pulls out of North Carolina

The online sweepstakes company whose owner faces racketeering charges in Florida is pulling out of North Carolina, where it has licensed more than 100 locations.

International Internet Technologies has sent letters to law enforcement agencies in North Carolina saying it was immediately ceasing doing business here. The letter, written by a Winston-Salem law firm, blames the Florida criminal case as well as the uncertain legal future of the games in North Carolina.

“Although nothing that has happened in Florida has any direct bearing or connection to matters in North Carolina, the ownership of IIT feels its first priority is to direct its full attention and resources to addressing concerns in Florida,” the letter reads.

Conditions of owner Chase Burns’ release from a Florida jail and other court orders make it impossible to provide day-to-day support for licensees, the letter says. It adds that the company had been lead to believe that legislation would be introduced in North Carolina by now clarifying the legal status of sweepstakes machines here.

Burns, who lives in Oklahoma, has been a major campaign contributor to politicians in North Carolina. Several recipients, including Gov. Pat McCrory, have donated Burns’ contributions to charities.

IIT hired two major lobbying firms to push an effort to tax and regulate the sweepstakes games after the state Supreme Court upheld a ban on the industry in December. IIT was one of two sweeps companies that challenged the state’s ban on the games.

In Florida, Burns’ gaming machines were supposed to send proceeds to a nonprofit veterans group in St. Augustine, Fla. But, according to investigators, only 2 percent of the money went there. Burns’ reportedly earned $300 million on his gaming software there.

“We’re pleased to see this company recognize the law and the strong Supreme Court decision we won following many years of legal battles against video gambling,” said Noelle Talley, spokeswoman for N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper Jr., on Wednesday.

The Dispatch newspaper in Davidson County first reported on the letter Tuesday. Dome obtained a copy on Wednesday.

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