Sweepstakes Ban: Guilford Co. Sheriff Cracking Down

11:29 PM, Feb 26, 2013   |    comments
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Greensboro, NC -- It seems pretty simple. According to state law, all electronic machines or devices for sweepstakes are unlawful. So why are so many still open?

The state has been trying to shut down sweepstakes businesses for three years. However, only today are the lights off at the Sweepstakes Cafe in Browns Summit.

The sign on the door reads "Closed Thanks to BJ Barnes", the Guilford County Sheriff.

"We have to prove that they are in violation of the North Carolina general statute. And how we go about doing that, I'm not going to be able to say because it's basically an undercover situation," said Major Tom Sheppard with the Guilford County Sheriff's Office.

After a two-week investigation by undercover officers, on Tuesday, deputies seized several computers, about $4,700 and documents from the business.

The two people working there were cited.

According to Sheppard, this is just the first of what will likely be many sweepstakes busts.

The North Carolina legislature banned sweepstakes businesses back in 2010.

However, the owners fought it in court and questioned if the ban was legal.

In December, the NC Supreme Court ruled the sweepstakes illegal, but the businesses changed their software, searching for a loophole.

Sheppard told WFMY News 2 software makers have no business interpreting what's legal or illegal.

"I'm a law enforcement officer. I don't get to decide who's guilty and not guilty. That's done in a court of law," said Sheppard.

So what about all of the other sweepstakes businesses that are back up and running?

Greensboro Police haven't begun enforcement yet, but they plan to soon. They're giving sweepstakes businesses a chance to surrender illegal machines on their own.

The High Point Police Chief said they're investigating. They still have to get inside to determine if they're breaking the law.

For now, the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office is only investigating if someone reports a problem.

And in Alamance County, the Sheriff's Office is not enforcing the ban because the district attorney still has some concern with appeals.

So what if you're still supporting a sweepstakes business or you're caught in one when it's searched?

Sheppard said they have no intention of charging or citing any of the patrons unless they have an outstanding warrant.

WFMY News 2

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