Friday, December 3, 2010

Planning bites: Internet sweepstakes

Parlors Change Game or Close - Laws in NC Changes this week.

It appears the courts still have work to do. A letter filed by Mark Davis, Special Deputy Director of the Attorney General’s office,  has asked the appellate courts to review the constitutionality of NCGS 14-306.4, subpart (i) which examines and defines the extent of jurisdiction of the Superior Court judges  (i.e.- enforcement).  More to come....
The News and Observer reports: Although some sweepstakes players found locked doors and empty parlors Wednesday, the first day of an attempted statewide ban on the games, others found machines open for business.
By 5:30 p.m., players filled nearly all of the 25 seats inside B&G Sweepstakes on New Bern Avenue. Owner Dale Batise said the company that provides the software for his games had switched the machines to lawful versions. Other parlors around the city had signs in their front windows, promising to reopen within days, as new software could be installed on their computers. The new games are the latest workaround from an industry that has spent years battling the state legislature for the right to operate. New software will almost certainly mean new legal challenges. Though many parlors were shuttered, Batise said he trusted that the software firm Figure 8 Technologies had done the work needed for him to open. "I'm comfortable," he said, noting that he employed six full-time workers. "I didn't want to put my workers out of work." The legislature passed a law in July that outlawed electronic sweepstakes while permitting more traditional marketing games, including scratch-off tickets offered by fast-food restaurants. In video sweepstakes, customers generally buy Internet time at a computer terminal, which provides them credits to play casino-style games. At B&G, players acknowledge on a release form that they know the winners are predetermined.
A Guilford County judge recently ruled that video sweepstakes are protected free speech, but the judge said the state has the right to ban games that mimic gambling. In a similar case this week, a Wake County judge ruled for the state instead of a group of amusement companies that were fighting to stay in business.
Batise believes the Guilford County order opened an avenue for him to operate. He said many of his older games, including those that simulated slot machines and keno, are gone. One of the new games looks like an electronic version of a complicated tic-tac-toe.

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