Officers are working to shut down sweepstakes

by: Sarah Rosario Updated:

NORTH CAROLINA - When it comes to video sweepstakes games the state's highest court has made them illegal yet again.

On Friday the state Supreme Court ruled in two cases upholding the ban on video sweepstakes games and amusement machines. This comes after a ban in 2010 was overturned.

For years video sweepstakes owners have found loopholes and challenged the law as unconstitutional.

Their stance is that it's not a form of gambling and that it's no different than McDonald's scratch off Monopoly promotions, where the customer pays for a product, makes a donation to a charitable cause, and gets a chance to win a prize.

State leaders said its latest ruling was a constitutional effort to close a loophole since video poker machines were outlawed in 2007.

The legislation has prompted the Union County Sheriff's Office to take action. Monday, the sheriff announced his plans to enforce the ban.

"We pretty much had to wait for the final decision of the North Carolina Supreme Court to make their determination as to the constitutionality of the laws. We'll begin to build cases against these establishments and we'll go from there," said Capt. Ronnie Whitaker.

Deputies have two major problems with the parlors. They say the cash businesses are a haven for crime, and they also say people get addicted to them.

Eyewitness News has covered several robberies at sweepstakes parlors over the years. People we spoke to know the dangers of gambling.

"Most people that play them get addicted and spend all their money on them," said Jody Mull.

Others say if it's done in moderation it's not that bad.

"I don't have a problem with it necessarily but when it gets to the point when people are throwing down a paycheck even $150, it seems to become a problem," said Arthur Capel.

Owners who spoke to Eyewitness News said they'll try to find a loophole. If they're forced to shut down one owner said it would ruin his livelihood. He said his life savings were invested in the businesses.

Law enforcement statewide can't enforce the ban until Jan. 3.