By Pam Blume
Christian Action League
September 19, 2014
SMITHFIELD – Last week, “The CAL Insider” reported on the current status of the internet sweepstakes gambling ban passed by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2010 and upheld by the State Supreme Court in 2012.
Read previous story: ‘Gaming’ the System: AKA How to Play Gambling ‘Whack-a-Mole’
“Sweepstakes Cafés” have attempted to circumvent the ban by installing “pre-reveal” software that allows the customer to purchase internet time and see what prize is revealed before the game is played, thus allegedly eliminating “chance” and legitimizing the game with the new law, according to café owners.
This has resulted in some confusion and conflicting opinions on the legality of the “pre-reveal” software in the lower courts and with local law enforcement, but the State Attorney General’s office insists the law is clear and makes no exception for “pre-reveal” software. Some district attorney’s and local law enforcement have been reluctant to enforce the law until the issue is clearly settled.
However, this week the Raleigh News and Observer (N&O) reported that Johnston County District Attorney, Susan Doyle, is giving internet sweepstakes businesses in her county about 45 days to shut down or face the possibility of criminal charges.
Doyle has sent a letter to sweepstakes establishments in Johnston County declaring authorities have determined they are operating illegally; and her office will start issuing criminal charges on or after November 1.
Doyle said an investigator from the district attorney’s office and a sheriff’s deputy served letters on 14 sweepstakes businesses and she intends to serve every such business in the county.
The N&O reported “Most sweepstakes businesses were open Wednesday, but Craig Johnston, who works at the M&M Cyber Center in Clayton, said the store planned to close before Nov. 1.”
Besides the “pre-reveal” software changes, some sweepstakes cafés are using “game-of-skill” systems, another form of revised computer software meant to circumvent the law. “But North Carolina’s law against video sweepstakes gambling is strong according to our state’s Supreme Court,” said Dr. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “That’s why law enforcement and prosecutors should act on the law,” he added.
Dr. Creech also said, “We should be delighted and thankful to God for this good news from Johnston County. These dens of theft, these ports of predatory practice are on the run for now, and we’ve got to get them completely out of our state. I appreciate the courage and tenacity of District Attorney, Susan Doyle. Perhaps her bold action will move other DAs and law enforcement to move ahead and protect the public from this most addictive form of gambling. Counties that have Sweepstakes Cafés remaining have an open sewer in their midst and authorities need to take the necessary steps and stop dragging their feet and lingering in doubt about enforcing the law.”