Ban On Internet Sweepstakes Cafés Arrives

Sheriff's offices have been told they can start enforcing a ruling that bans Internet sweepstakes cafés in North Carolina on Thursday. On Wednesday, some were already shut down.

The state Supreme Court ruled last month on two cases in which amusement machine and other companies sought to overturn a 2010 law banning sweepstakes machines as a form of gambling. The court said the law was a constitutional effort to close a loophole since the state outlawed video poker machines in 2007. The ruling reinstated a ban on the sweepstakes-style Internet gambling operations.

The North Carolina Sheriffs' Association told the state's 100 county law enforcement officers that standard guidelines mean that the law can be enforced beginning on January 3.

The day before the enforcement is permitted, many Internet sweepstakes cafés remain open. However, we've found at least one such business that shut its doors. The Internet sweepstakes café in Grifton at Highland Ave. and Queen St. now has a sign that says "Closed until further notice." WITN called the business, named The Win Zone, and there was no answer.

Another café on Highway 17 just north of Jacksonville is open now, but an employee told WITN that they would close at 10 p.m. Wednesday.

Late Wednesday, Greenville police said they plan to monitor the cafés in the city, and have communicated with the owners. Police say they plan to work within guidelines provided by the North Carolina Attorney General's Office for enforcement of the law.

Sweepstakes operators and their attorneys indicated they will fight the court's ruling to stay open by making a change to the games.