Under the Dome

Sweepstakes ban enforcement begins; company says its games are legal

The N.C. Sheriff's Association sent a reminder to all sheriffs today reminding them that they can begin enforcing the ban on sweepstakes games today.

The memo includes a recommendation to ask for legal advice if sheriffs have questions about the legality of certain machines.

The state Supreme Court upheld a 2010 law banning video sweepstakes. An industry representative said when the decision was announced last month that businesses would change their software or businesses models, as they had in the past, to stay within the law.

The Sheriffs' Association email includes two letters from lawyers representing sweepstakes software companies saying that their games would change to comply with the law.

Last month, a lawyer for VS2 Worldwide Communications, which licenses software used by sweepstakes cafes, said its new system separates sweepstake from the video display, and is therefore legal.

"Customers using the new VS2 Sweepstakes System at this cafe can submit sweepstakes entries either: (a) at the point of sale of Internet time by having a cashier validate the entry to determine whether any prize is associated with the entry and the amount of the prize, if any; or (b) by submitting the entry on a computer terminal in the cafe through a software interface that has no 'entertaining display.'" wrote John F. Morrow Jr., a lawyer representing the company.

Gov.-elect Pat McCrory addressed the issued Thursday, saying the law enforcement agencies should "enforce the law." But he acknowledged the various loopholes will keep this a constant fight and send it back to the courts. He expressed interested in meeting with GOP legislative leaders soon to find a solution.

--Staff writer John Frank contributed.

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