Fri January 4, 2013
Sweepstakes Parlors Close, But Not For Long
Most video sweepstakes parlors in North Carolina are now closed, according to a spokesman for the businesses. That's because the sweepstakes machines became illegal in the state this week. But some of the parlors might not be closed for long.
Off Tryon Street, the Bankroll Business Center (yes, that's actually what it's called) is one of the sweepstakes parlors that's closed for now.
Inside there are machines that are basically just computers you can play electronic games on. The sweepstakes businesses argue it's not gambling – they just charge you for using the internet and give you credit to play the games.
But the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled last month it is gambling, and it's illegal.
Now all seven of the parlors I dropped by in Charlotte are closed, and most had a sign in the window similar to the one here. It says, "Closed for new software update."
A spokesman for the sweepstakes operators says that's the plan for now – some of the businesses will change their software so that you'll know if you win the game before you even play it.
The idea is that'll keep it from being considered gambling. But the spokesman says there will likely be more court cases to see if that argument holds up.
In the meantime, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police say the department will investigate sweepstakes businesses on a case-by-case basis.