Tag Archives: new sweepstakes market

North Carolina Sweepstakes Games : Pre-Reveal Software Country

Rockingham County, N.C. – On the Rockingham County line there’s something that you don’t always see in North Carolina anymore:  Internet sweepstakes cafes.

Pre-Reveal-GoldIt’s hard to find a parking spot at Village Business Center on N.C. 87. Customers come from miles around to try their luck at online games that could pay a little, a lot, or nothing at all. The sweepstakes centers front door is a 2-mile drive from the Alamance County line.

A state law was thought to have put all Internet sweepstakes businesses out of business when the district attorneys were given the OK by N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper to enforce it in early 2013. But the businesses are opening up again in various parts of the state where district attorneys and judges have found that new software called “pre reveal” apparently  makes the games legal.

congrats5At Village Business Center, the machines run on a “pre-reveal” system. With the click of a mouse, players can see their winnings before they play,  The argument that makes this game legal is that “it doesn’t violate the NC law the way it is written” says Casey Rooks, a spokesperson for Banbuster Games in Dallas, Texas.

Don Bullis, owner of Village Business Center, says he runs his business by the letter of the law. He previously ran the Village Marketplace Sweepstakes in Haw River before the law went into effect. Rockingham County officials checked Village Business Center out before it opened in August and gave him the go-ahead. Bullis paid for a privilege license and taxes on the machines.

Rockingham County District Attorney Phil Berger Jr. didn’t return calls this week seeking comment on his stance on the sweepstakes law and the legality of pre-reveal software.

Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Kevin Southern said Berger’s office determined that pre-reveal software doesn’t violate the law, based on that determination the sheriff’s department is following that advice “What we’re told is, as long as it’s in compliance with pre-reveal, it doesn’t violate the law,” Southern said.chalk

But sweepstakes businesses remain illegal here, Alamance County District Attorney Pat Nadolski said Friday.

“Alamance County law enforcement and the DA’s office are united on this front,” Nadolski said. “At the end of the day, I have a constitutional requirement to enforce the law as it’s written by the legislature. I don’t get to pick and choose.”

Nadolski wouldn’t comment on what other district attorneys are doing.

What makes pre-reveal different ?

Casey Rooks explains “simply, the sweepstakes prize is shown before the game result or what the state would call the entertainment display (slots, cards or keno)”

 

Nadolski has been approached by sweepstakes gaming software companies who want him to take a look at their software and several have asked for an opinion.

“We don’t give advisory opinions,” Nadolski said. “I’ll meet with and talk to anybody, but I’m not going to look at their software.”

The N.C. Attorney General’s office considers the law and N.C. Supreme Court ruling definitive on Internet sweepstakes as video gambling. The office continues to “defend their enforcement vigorously” and argue against sweepstakes businesses in civil court actions, said Noelle Talley, public information officer for the N.C. Department of Justice.

In interviews with other news outlets, Attorney General Cooper has consistently said sweepstakes are illegal, regardless of software changes. He described the process of eliminating the businesses as “whack-a-mole” to the Associated Press last year.

It’s up to County and City law enforcement to enforce the text of the law.

“Law enforcement agencies and District Attorneys set their own enforcement priorities within their jurisdictions and have powers, duties and prosecutorial discretion, and they are always welcome to consult with our office as needed,” Talley wrote in an email.

She pointed out that some districts have successfully prosecuted the businesses under the law.

But within the last six months, the businesses and the new pre-reveal games seem to be making a comeback and have several district court victories.

An Onslow County judge granted a sweepstakes business an injunction against that county’s sheriff’s office. The judge found that a software change required skill and dexterity to play the games and that the machines were a “lawful promotional device” for selling gift certificates. So far, these ‘banbuster games’ have  found a way to be successful and more importantly compliant.

Village Business Center is open at 9am and closes when the last customer chooses to leave.

“We’re normally open 24 hours. Business is that good,” said Carissa Stanley, a manager there. “We have people come in from everywhere: Alamance County, Greensboro, Virginia.”

The customers at business center,  many of whom are seniors, chit-chatted. Several lined up at the  window for their free play $5 bonus, good on the first $20 with a swipe of their membership cards. A signed informed the patrons that Tuesday is Men’s Day, Thursday is Women’s Day.

“It’s generally an older clientele,” said Stanley. “They know they’re not going to win big. They come out to spend time with each other and socialize. It’s a place for them to come and see their friends.”

Bullis is weary of the controversy and opposition to Internet sweepstakes.

The majority of NC voters (along with Bullis) believe sweepstakes should be allowed, but fairly taxed and regulated. Before the sweepstakes law went in effect, cities and towns began charging thousands of dollars per computer and license fees. A state law that lost steam (HB-547) HB147would have mandated thousands of dollars in charges before sweepstakes could open.

Bullis takes offense when people accuse him and other sweepstakes operators  as preying on the poor or causing harm to communities.

“It’s absolutely not true,” he said. “I employ 10 people. I do all my business locally. When they shut us down in Haw River, it put 10 people on unemployment. … We put money back into the community. We’re never recognized for that.”

NC Sweepstakes Ban Law Challenged by Games

New Games ; Not Guilty ; Gaming Continues in NC

RED SPRINGS — In a court ruling last month, some Internet sweepstakes operators would be allowed to reopen a  business in Scotland County, but Robeson County officials  are not yet sure if they will allow the new games to re-open in Red Springs.Pre-Reveal-Gold

A entrepreneur from North Carolina, Grace Outlaw wants to bring a gaming parlor to town, but town officials say opening a sweepstakes operation has not been cleared yet.

“My understanding from the district attorney and the Attorney General’s Office is that any sweepstakes operation is still against the law,” Red Springs Police Chief Ronnie Patterson claimed after a meeting with the gaming operator on Monday.

Patterson said he would check with city, county and state officials about whether Grace’s machines would be exempt from the ban on sweepstakes parlors and try to give her a definitive answer by Friday.

congrats5Grace opened Carolina Cyber Center on South Main Street on Leisure Road for a few weeks, after a District Court judge concluded the gaming  software used in her original business does not violate the ban on sweepstakes parlors that authorities began enforcing early last year after the state Supreme Court declared a 2010 ban on video gambling constitutional.

Grace and others in the sweepstakes  industry proclaim  that the state ban is key on the use of “an entertaining display or visual information, capable of being seen by a sweepstakes player that takes the form of actual game play.” The system is commonly referred to as “Pre Reveal Sweepstakes” since the prize is shown before the “entertainment display”

Grace’s machines uses the Pre Reveal software that reveals the winners in advance — a loophole that keeps those machines in compliance with the law, according to Grace and her attorneys (and the judge)

“They came in and said we were running an illegal operation, but the judge saw different,” said Robert Outlaw, who runs a business on Main Street. “We went to court and we won our case” Since the Supreme court declared that the 2010 law banning internet sweepstakes was constitutional the Pre Reveal sweepstakes software has won close to a dozen court cases.

All the charges were dismissed against customers who were playing at  Carolina Cyber Center and charged with illegal gambling when the business was closed by law enforcement earlier this year.

The PreReveal software used by Carolina Cyber Center prompts customers to click a reveal button when they begin their interaction with the machine. That button simply shows the user, without use of graphics such as a simulated roulette wheel, whether or not they have won. At that point, when the sweepstakes portion of the session has ended, users may then opt to see the game commonly referred to as the ‘entertainment display’

“A lot of gaming establishment stuck with the old system and that is why they have not reopened, but we went with the new software that shows you what you would win without going through a game,” Grace said. “The judge ruled that was all right.”thewinner

Outlaw said she would like to locate the gaming parlor in a vacant store near the Food Lion shopping center on Fourth Street in Red Springs. She also plans to locate a gaming business in Pembroke.

“I’m hoping that if our parlors are legal in Laurinburg, than they are legal everywhere,” she said.

Town officials said that if the new software make the businesses legal, then the parlors could once again be a a great source of revenue for the city. Before a ruling deemed sweepstakes games illegal, Red Springs welcomed the machines, collecting more than $100,000 in fees during a fiscal year.

 

Patterson goes on to say,  “We don’t care if the games come or not,” Patterson said. “But I have a feeling that we’re going to continue to enforce the ban (on entertainment displays) If we don’t, the SBI will be down here investigating why we are not doing our jobs.”

Another Sweepstakes Refund ; Cities Finding it Cheaper to Give Back Fees

..Lexington to refund licensing fees to sweepstakes centers..

 
 
LEXINGTON – According to city officials, the city will be paying around $26,500 back to sweepstakes centers after they were forced to shut down in accordance with the law.
Before the Supreme Court upheld a ban on illegal gambling on sweepstakes in 2010, the city of Lexington has taxed and regulated at least six sweepstakes business centers last fall.
As per Director Tammy Absher of the Business and Community Development, the privilege fees collected from sweepstakes since September will be reimbursed in the following weeks.
Absher was frustrated and felt like they were lining up with what was adopted in the state level.courthouse
“The city was interested in supporting them as businesses as well as collecting revenue to create a favorable business environment for all businesses,” said the Director.
The city charged $1,000 for sweepstakes business and $500 for every terminal computers or machines.
Though, there was already a state ban on sweepstakes, there are still some towns and cities which collected lucrative privilege licensing fees from sweepstakes owners. Now, sweepstakes operators were clamoring for reimbursements.
Among those towns was Burlington which reimbursed some $158,500 to sweepstakes centers.
Based on Burlington City Manager Harold Owen’s statement, the action came as a recommendation from their legal counsel.
refundIn addition, the city of Greensboro was likely to pay out around $175,898 licensing fees to six sweepstakes café with the citizen’s tax after City Attorney Mujeeb Shah-Khan announced that the city’s willingness to confer with the complaining centers to seek a compromise.
On the other hand, other towns like Haw River and Graham refused to return collected privilege fees from sweepstakes centers.

Pre-Reveal Games, Legal in Your County ?

..Court Battles With New Software Prove to be a Winning Hand for Operators..

Greenville, NC – A recent law that attempted to ban internet sweepstakes parlors in North Carolina has been in place since 2006 and re-enforced by the State Supreme CourtPre-Reveal-Gold in December 2012. But because the law only seems to ban entertaining displays the  businesses are not only still open, they’re growing.

While some law enforcement departments are cracking down on internet sweepstakes, some owners are remaining open. Connie Langley owns the Pirates Loot Sweepstakes in Pitt County and says, “I don’t consider it gambling because it is a pre-reveal system.”

She says new software allows players to see what they win before they play which is where “the pre-reveal” software comes into play.

Langley say since they’ve changed over the system she believes her establishment is a legal business and doesn’t cross the line of what the new law says is banned.

Attorney General Roy Cooper disagrees, saying, “We don’t believe the law upholds these machines. We believe this new software they have been touting still is illegal under the law.”

Cooper says it’s up to each individual county to crackdown on these businesses, and if they need assistance, the state will step in. Cooper says, “We have attorneys that will go down and argue these cases if asked by the D.A.’s, our attorneys are willing to help.”

But Cooper says the reason some sweepstakes gaming parlors are still open is because there are still working through the rules. Even in contacting local law enforcement about this story, many of them say they’re even unclear about the law and how to enforce it.

WJSA spoke with Greenville Police Chief Hassan Aden

New Software Can Be Installed On Old Equipment

who says his department, along with Pitt County want to understand the law completely to avoid making unnecessary arrests that the D.A. couldn’t prosecute. There have been a handful of winning cases across the state with this new gaming system.sweepstakes machine

North Carolina Sweepstakes Operator Wins Injuction

..Inconsistent Rulings Across State Good Sign That Regulation May Not Be Far Away..
A superior court order in Eastern North Carolina allows a gambling machine operator to expand business across Buncombe County.
According to the ruling, machines are legal because it requires skills and dexterity for a win and also show the pre-reveal format.Pre-Reveal-Gold
The Superior Court Judge has ruled that these sweepstakes machines are  legitimate. The ruling also prohibits the sheriff of Onslow County to seize the machines and arrest the operators.
“We have always maintained that our games are legitimate and were compliant with the state law/” Says Casey Rooks of Pre-Reveal Sweepstakes.
Rooks also stated that the PreReveal marketing strategy fits the same strategy other sweepstakes café uses to promote their businesses. The business model has won a score of legal battles for sweepstakes operators resulting to dismissal of criminal charges.
Back in 2007, the state banned all games of pure chance and even put Buncombe County Sheriff Bobby Medford behind bars forCONVERT PRICE LIST accepting bribes from gambling lords.
In 2010, state lawmakers have passed a general statute 14-306.4 allowing sweepstakes while banning video poker, craps, keno, and lotto.
However, a compact between the state and the Cherokee Tribe made the state leave a component in the statute to allow games of skills and dexterity.

Bright Side to Sweepstakes Cafes Closing in Ohio ?

..Columbus Sweepstakes Cafe Close, Claim They Will Re-open Soon..

Columbus, Ohio – Law enforcement officials in Ohio says Internet cafes are shutting down now that Ohio’s  HB-7 was passed that regulated sweepstakes cafes prizes to $10.

Sweepstakes Cafe’s in Ohio Are Now Empty. Some Cafe Owners are Changing their Games to Comply

The Attorney General’s  office is reported to be “ keeping an eye on compliance.”

It’s been two weeks since the new sweepstakes laws took effect, and Attorney General Mike DeWine says Internet cafes around the state are now closing up shop, although some claim only to be closed ‘temporarily’

The laws, created by H.B. 7, started after a referendum effort failed to collect enough signatures to put on a ballot.

BanBuster Games Claims Their Games Do Not Violate Ohio Law.

DeWine says most of the vendors who design and operate the sweepstakes software are leaving Ohio. The state’s top law enforcement official says he’s holding off on raids to give companies time to sort things out.

“They’re complying with the law and I think they see that they’ve seen they’ve run out the string,” DeWine said. “They went as long as they could go and it’s over with now.”

The Attorney General’s office is also reaching out to local law enforcement to make them aware that his office is standing by to help enforce the new regulations.

Operators Changing Hardware to Comply with New State Law

Some of the former café owners are hoping that hardware and games offered by a few of the software companies will allow them an option to keep patrons, other operators have formed a network to challenge the legality of the sweepstakes regulation in court.

Cumberland County To Be Next To Challenge Legality Of New Sweepstakes Games

New Games In NC Have Won 7 out of 9 Cases

Cumberland County – Operators of a Cumberland County sweepstakes cafe that was raided by sheriff’s deputies this spring have been indicted on felony charges.

The Sheriff’s Department  says it intends to seek more charges  for other gambling parlors raided by deputies in March and April, when they seized more than 700 machines and cash.

“This is the first one, but this is not the biggest one,” said Ronnie Mitchell, the Sheriff’s Office legal adviser said today .

A grand jury issued indictments against Cecil Alfred Parker and Cathy Parker of Wake County, accusing them of a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to obstruct justice and other charges. The Parkers and another man owned Oasis Sweepstakes at 3451 Chickenfoot Road in Hope Mills, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The Sheriff’s  raided cafes that continued to stay open after the state Supreme Court ruled that sweepstakes that used ‘entertainment displays’harrahs were illegal. It is estimated that 61 cyber sweepstakes cafes were in business in the county last fall.

Some sweepstakes cafe owners stayed in business despite the ruling, saying they modified their games to make them legal again. Sheriff Moose Butler and other authorities said they remained illegal although there have been numerous court cases across the state that have dismissed gambling charges against different defendants.

The indictments say the Parkers had video poker and other illegal gambling devices at the business and paid cash prizes to winners of the games, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Lawmen searched Oasis Sweepstakes in April and seized 33 video poker machines. More than five people worked at the business, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The charges against the Parkers, according to a Sheriff’s Office news release, are: continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to commit continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to obstruct justice, operation of prohibited gaming machines, conspiring to operate prohibited gaming machines, manufacturing and sale of slot machines and devices, and agreements with reference to slot machines or devices made unlawful.

Bail was set at $50,000 for both defendants.

Municipalities May Be Held Liable After Internet Cafe Was Forced To Close

WILMINGTON – A sweepstakes shop busted in July may go bankrupt after a judge denied to release a ruling on a temporary restraining order filed against the District Attorney and the county sheriff.
Capital One Reward Zone along Market Street, has been trying to reopen since the County Sheriff’s Office apprehended the shop last month. Authorities have seized 50 computers during the raid and charged the business for the violation of the state’s ban of sweepstakes.sweepstakes machine
Sweepstakes that use ‘entertainment displays’ have been banned in North Carolina since December 2012.
Attorney Tommy Hicks who act as Capital One’s legal adviser expressed his disappointment for having to wait any longer before the sweepstakes shop will be allowed to operate again.
According to Hicks, his client will go bankrupt in a couple of weeks. Hicks claims his client only have $6,000 money let in the bank and is in debt of $250,000.
In addition, Hicks said they did not get the relief they needed. He commented that the prosecutor placed them in a position where the sweepstakes business is going to fail. However, this opens the door for damages if the case follows precedent and is thrown out of court for not violating the law.
Meanwhile, the DA together with the sheriff said they would file a motion to dismiss the case. A date is to be set for the coming hearing.

 

 

Chalk Up Another Win For PreReveal Games

Pre-Reveal Games Are Win Again In Courts In North Carolina

Waynesville, NC — A video sweepstakes game referred to as “Pre Reveal” are up and running again in Macon County following a court case last week, a decision  that is rumored to be the 5th known victory in NC courts involving the newest sweepstakes software.

Pre-Reveal Sweepstakes Games Win Another Court Case In NC

A district court Judge found a sweepstakes store owner not guilty on charges of operating illegal sweepstakes machines in Haywood county.

Sweepstakes operators around the state have made the  transition to this new style of game that are not believed to violate the text of the statue.

Tami Nicholson, manager of the Winner’s Circle in Waynesville, was cited for operating an illegal sweepstakes machine in February after installing $20,000 worth of new machines. She was found not-guilty on August 15.

Ban Buster Games Launches Pre-Reveal In Florida

A Jacksonville Internet sweepstakes café owner is confident in his legal status and has reopened his business and paying out cash to players.

A bill was signed three months ago by Gov. Rick Scott outlawing Internet cafes because the Legislature says it’s gambling.

Ban-Buster Games

This came following the arrest of local attorney and the former head of the the Jacksonville Fraternal Order of Police, along with the operators of Allied Veterans of the World Internet cafes.

Pete’s Retreat Cyber Café on Normandy Boulevard, a Westside business not associated with them, has changed his games to “BanBuster Games” and has reopened in light of the conversion

Mary Love, a customer,  learned that one of her favorite places is open again. Pete’s Retreat is paying out cash to winners, she found out and says she will give it a try.

“I see they are open again,” Love said, “Even if I don’t like it, I will come once in while just to get away.” The business has changed the machines to fall in line with the law, the café’s general manager Pete Miller said.

“They don’t resemble slot machines or things like that anymore,” Miller said, “and they picked it apart and rewrote the software to comply with the statue as currently written.”  The new “ban buster games” are called “prereveal” and/or “prereveal sweepstakes.

The Pre-Reveal Sweepstakes system has won court cases in several states including North Carolina, California and Colorado.

The machines would spin like slot machines before. They don’t spin now but just reveal like a curtain if you win.

Something else is done too. Customers are told in advance if they won. Commonly referred to as “Pre-Reveal”. It lets them know for the next reveal if they won or not. The amount of cash to bet is not changed, but they can choose not to continue and get a payout.

Right now they are waiting to see if there’s a chance they could be closed down or worse, arrested, but it’s the way they plan to beat the state law.

“We certainly hope that does not happen,” Miller said “I could not tell you I am not concerned, but we are prepared for it and we think that we are OK,” Miller said.

This internet café is the first to reopen and pay out cash. The city and state have taken a hands-off approach for now on whether it will be allowed.

That is the same reaction he is getting, according to Miller.

He said “We talked to several attorneys. We talked to whoever we could speak to on an official level, but no one wants to get involved.”

Miller said no one will come and inspect his business.

“They won’t do it. We were told if we open we do it at our own risk.” he said.

Aware of the software changes, City officials said they don’t enforce the laws. It is the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.  It’s more of a city problem but it appears both of the agencies will sit down in the near future and decide if they need to take action, Staff there said.

Cafés are expected to reopen with the same programs in the near future meanwhile.