Tag Archives: new sweepstakes market

Sweepstakes Court Decision May Allow Pre-Reveal Skill Games To Turn Back On

Pre-Reveal Skill Games Could Be the Next Chapter in North Carolina Gaming

SOUTH CHARLOTTE – A sweepstakes center considers reopening after law enforcement busted the establishmentPre-Reveal-Goldand arrested two of its staff months ago. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police seized 39 sweepstakes devices.

According to East Woodlawn Road Sweepstakes manager, the business was compliant with the law. Detectives thought otherwise and shut down the business.

 MONTHS AGO

Detectives said the business take a blind eye on gambling and electronic sweepstakes laws.

A concerned citizen named Avianne Peterson admitted she was glad police shut down the business after the North Carolina Supreme Court upheld the ban on sweepstakes (With Entertainment Displays)

“It is their job to crack it down. It is illegal, you crack it down,” expressed Peterson.

Furthermore, Peterson cited that people work hard to get their money, preReveal 300x300and as a mom, this was something that she would not like her son or anybody’s children to be exposed to.

On the other hand, some residents like Joseph Flanagan do not understand why law enforcement has to shut down a fun past time.

“They aren’t harming anybody, and people go in there who want to go in there,” said Flanagan.

He also contested that if people want to spend your money in some place like that and try to take their chances, then that’s their choice.

The new games use “skill and dexterity” and therefore not a game of chance hence not in violation of the gambling laws of North Carolina.

Pre-Reveal Skill Games Seem To Get Nod In NC Sweepstakes Appeals Court Decision

Games That Use “Skill and Dexterity” On the Horizon in NC Gaming Industry

RALEIGH, NC - An appeals court in North Carolina upheld the convictions of two people for violating a state ban on video sweepstakes games (NON-PRE-REVEAL SKILL) in what state Attorney General Roy Cooper’s office said was the first such ruling in a criminal case.

preReveal 300x300The three-judge panel of the state Court of Appeals gave a unanimous decision which means the Edgecombe County case can’t be automatically appealed to the state Supreme Court, although the higher state court can choose to review the case.

Up and Down

The decision comes after 8+ years of back-and-forth between lawmakers, the video sweepstakes industry and the courts.

State lawmakers first passed a ban on video poker in 2006. The industry quickly adapted, introducing new sweepstakes games that operators said complied with the law. State lawmakers banned Internet-based sweepstakes games with entertaining displays in 2010 at that time the industry had already adapted to the “Pre-Reveal” Games and thus have won multiple court cases across the state.

With most sweepstakes operations, patrons buy prepaid cards giving them Internet time/ phone time/ or other products and the opportunityskill games to uncover potential cash and prizes with mouse clicks on a computer screen. Winners take their cards to a cashier and cash out. No different than buying french fries at McDonald’s and peeling the tab to reveal your prize.

In the past two years, police in many municipalities have shut down sweepstakes cafes and arrested owners and employees. Some of those arrested have been acquitted of criminal charges because the Pre-Reveal games have been found not to violate the text of the law.

Some lower court judges have disagreed about the law and its application, leading to uneven law enforcement and the likelihood that appeals courts will again have to weigh in.

Skill and Dexterity

The Court of Appeals ruled that the convictions of sweepstakes cafe owner Richard Conoley and store manager Chapman Kawana Spruill should stick because the “video games offered at their location revealed a prize that didn’t depend on any skill or dexterity”, Judge Wanda congrats5Bryant wrote for the court and therefore violated the text of the law. Both were sentenced to 45-day jail terms, with Chapman’s sentence changed to three years of probation and Spruill given a year of probation.

 

Super lobbyist reacts to Perry‘s move to end i-gaming

NC sweepstakes Game Conversion 750x75

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The nation’s most notorious lobbyist raised his eyebrows as Texas Gov. Rick Perry push to end online gambling in the US.

Former lobbyist Jack “Casino Jack” Abramoff, tagged as the most powerful lobbyist in Capitol Hill for a decade stated that it was interesting Perry came out in favor of ending online gambling.

“The gaming industry was entirely a political creation, everything about it is politics. These politics are generally shaped in the public good, but all of it relates to politics and market share,” told Abramoff, author of Capitol Punishment: The Hard Truth about Washington Corruption from America’s Most Notorious Lobbyist.

According to the Casino Jack, there was a connection between Perry’s move and the interest of casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. In fact, Adelson, the leading force against online gaming funded the Republicans in 2012 donating almost $100 million. In addition, he also financed Perry’s re-election for governor in 2007.

He also said that Adelson was opposed to online gambling because he believes it will ruin his land-based properties such as the Las Vegas Sands Corporation and The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino.

NC Sweepstakes Option 350x350“He may have other reasons that he’s against online gambling, but the primary one has got to be to protect his $2 billion properties all over the place. They’re billions and billions of dollars of investment, and you don’t want to see it go up in smoke because somebody goes and registers a website for $15,” Abramoff explained.

The office of the governor, however, denied any connection to Adelson’s crusade against online gambling.

“Gov. Perry has long been opposed to expanding the footprint of any gambling in Texas,” the governor’s spokeswoman, Lucy Nashed stated in an email.

In a letter addressed to congressional leaders, Gov. Perry urged the Congress to carefully examine the short- and long-term social and economic consequences before Internet gambling spreads.

“Congress needs to step in now and call a “time-out” by restoring the decades-long interpretation of the Wire Act. Congress, the states, law enforcement, and the public need – and deserve – an opportunity to fully review, assess, understand and debate the significant policy implications entailed in the spréad of Internet gambling before it becomes pervasive in our society,” the Governor wrote.

Newport News lawyer arrested for illegal gambling operation


Do You Have 750x150NEWPORT NEWS, Va. 
– The Newport News Police Department arrested a lawyer along with her husband for running an illegal gambling operation after police responded to an armed robbery in Main Street.

As authorities responded to an armed robbery at 809 Main Street, an internet-based business called HardToFindPartySupplies.com was discovered inside in the same building. The said establishment housed four poker tables with gambling rules on the walls and offered snacks and beverages to gamers.

According to the police report, HardToFindPartySupplies.com belongs to a Newport News lawyer Jennifer Schlain, 35, with husband Adam Schlain, 30 of Elder Road.

Investigators told that three armed men entered the building and robbed occupants at gunpoint. After the robbery, Jennifer Schlain also known as Jennifer Sherwood for her law practice identified herself as a licensed attorney and volunteered herself as a legal counsel to everyone present during the robbery.

NC Skill Games 350x350Furthermore, Schlain addressed everyone in the room and told that no one had to speak to the police without her being present.

Master Police Detective James Huling said Schlain’s proclamations set off suspicions that the search has the potential of exposing identifying information and illegal activities of individuals present during the robbery.

Law enforcement seized marijuana, a glass smoking device, two computers, an iPad, three mobile phones, an external hard drive, poker chips, an “attendance list at scene of robbery,” business papers and various financial records from HardToFindPartySupplies.com.

The couple were charged with individual count of illegal possession a gambling device and misdemeanor for aiding in the operation of a gambling enterprise.

Colorado pushes for more gambling from casino to racetracks

NC sweepstakes Game Conversion 750x75

DENVER – The supporters of a ballot initiative to expand casino gambling in the state of Colorado to racetracks announced on Monday a total of 136,342 petition signatures submitted to the Department of State to put the measure on the November ballot.

“Today is a significant milestone for our citizens committee and the thousands of supporters we have across the state,” declared Aurora Democrat and former state Sen. Bob Hagedorn.

The measure called Initiative 135 aims to amend the constitution in order to allow at least 2,500 slot machines, card games, craps and other games of chance at the racetracks of the Arapahoe Park, Pueblo County and Mesa County.

According to the Coloradans for Better Schools, the committee behind Initiative 135, the measure would raise $100 million annually to fund K-12 education in the state.

“Our initiative offers voters the opportunity to provide a new, reliable and protected funding stream to improve K-12 education in Colorado,” co-sponsor and former state Rep. Vickie Anderson stated.

In addition, the committee told that 34% of the adjusted gross proceeds from casino gambling would be allotted for the state’s education through a new account called K-12 Education Fund.

convert your sweepstakes today 350x350Based on the state law, an initiative requires at least 86, 105 valid signatures from registered voters to be on the ballot. So far, the committee submitted 158% of the required signatures. Once the Department of State verified the petition within 30 days, Initiative 135 will be assigned a permanent number on the ballot.

On the other hand, no education advocacy group supports the imitative yet. The group Don’t Turn Racetracks into Casinos as well as existing casinos were fighting the proposal.

“This initiative isn’t about public schools. Not a single one of Colorado’s 178 school districts have come out in support of this scheme. (Backers) paid to have signatures gathered because Colorado’s 36,000 teachers don’t support them. That’s because a plan to build mega-casinos to help one Rhode Island company isn’t a plan for our public schools,” expressed Don’t Turn Racetracks into Casinos spokeswoman Michele Ames.

Showboat casino for sale

NC Sweeps skill game king 750x75ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – Caesars Entertainment, the parent company of the Showboat Casino Hotel told it would consider selling the casino to another casino operator instead of shutting it down.

Earlier, Caesars announced it will close down the Mardi Gras-themed casino in Atlantic City by August 31.

“While we regret the impact that this decision will have on our Showboat associates, we believe this is a necessary step to help stabilize our business in Atlantic City and support the viability of our remaining operations in the vicinity,” said CEO Gary Loveman.

Loveman called it a difficult decision and described it as “persistant declines in the business levels in the area exacerbated by the high property-tax burden in Atlantic City.”

However, the company received expressions of interest which made the company reconsider its decision earlier.

convert your sweepstakes today 350x350“We receive offers on properties relatively frequently and when we are planning to close one, we often receive offers from people who want to operate them as hotel casinos or have other uses in mind,” told Spokesman Gary Thompson.

He added that having another casino in the market will have an impact; play somewhat of a role. Yet, the largest role would be the amount of money they could receive from the property.

Meanwhile, Assemblyman Chris Brown stated that he will introduce measure that will encourage casino operators to sell their company to other casino operators if they decide to shut down or pay back economic incentives.

Pre-Reveal Games Still On Top of Industry in North Carolina

NC Sweeps skill game king 750x75WHITEVILLE, N.C. – A Dublin elected official arrested for illegal operation of video gaming café was told pre-reveal video machines were legal under the state’s law.

Last week, Dublin Councilman Jeffrey Scott Smith was arrested and charged with two counts of misdemeanor for operating video gaming machines at Gold Rush Internet Café along Highway 701 north of Whiteville. He was released, however, with $1,000 secured bond.

According to Smith, the machines were legal under the North Carolina law because those who purchased internet time were already notified of the winnings before the game.

“Those same games are running in over 40 counties in the state of North Carolina. There are other district attorneys and sheriff’s departments that agree that our software is compliant,” told Smith.

On the contrary, District Attorney Jon David stated that the State Supreme Court already upheld the statute banning video gambling machines in North Carolina.

NC Skill Games 350x350Smith’s lawyer Alan Maynard claimed the court’s decision, does not outlaw the machines used in Gold Rush.

The councilman was already charged with misdemeanor for operating video gaming machines in Bladen County, however, the trial ended in hung jury.

In May, Smith reopened the video gaming cafes in Dublin where he served as town commissioner.

David insisted to take the case to the superior court for Smith’s best interest.

“By bringing this matter directly into superior court, we’re going to expedite things and give the community a chance to weigh in on what justice should be. And I would think that any defendant should embrace that opportunity because a jury is the ultimate safeguard for any criminal defense,” David said.

The Columbus County Sheriff’s Officer seized 68 hard drives from computers and $5,800 cash from Gold Rush.

Raleigh amass $1.76M from “state-banned” gaming machines

Pre-Reveal-GoldRALEIGH, N.C. – in December of 2012, the North Carolina Supreme Court outlawed sweepstakes gaming in the state, yet, the city of Raleigh continued to issue business permits and amassed a total of $1.76 million from sweepstakes license fees.

City Attorney Dottie Leapley, however, said Raleigh would not give business permits to illegal businesses.

The North Carolina General Assembly passed a law banning sweepstakes and electronic gambling in December 2010. Yet, the sweepstakes industry returned with new set of modified skill games which they call “legal” under the law.

“You still may have them popping up like we did with the payday lending industry. They come up in different kinds of forms. It’s sort of like whack-a-mole. They come up with a different kind of nuance,” told Attorney General Roy Cooper.

In 2006, Raleigh issued an ordinance requiring sweepstakes and gaming machines owners to pay for license fees. The city billed $5 per machine; $3,500 for the initial electronic gaming; and $1,000 per additional machine for a total cap of $20,000.

The city’s revenues department reported that starting 2006, same year the General Assembly banned sweepstakes, Raleigh already issued business permits to 54 electronic sweepstakes cafes and video game machines.

Sweepstakes manager Arken Elhicheri, 44, of Raleigh, told Raleigh sent him a renewal of permit in June 13, 2013 for $20,000 worth of business permits. He was indicted by the Wake County Superior Court earlier this year for illegal gambling.

“It doesn’t make sense. How does someone dedicate a crime by regulating a business that’s protected by a city?” asked Elhicheri.

Pre-Reveal Software Company Expands After Winning Court Cases

Pre-Reveal-GoldLAURINBURG – state officials remained relatively silent after a joint gambling task force issued forced closure notice with a deadline of July 1, to all sweepstakes café in North Carolina and Scotland County.

The Hoke and Scotland County Joint Gaming Task Force organized last month to maintain the illegality of possessing, operating, or playing internet sweepstakes machines, closed the doors of supposedly 24 hours sweepstakes cafes. Both JB’s Business Center and Main Street Internet Café were out of business.

The forced closure action from the gambling task force was initiated in accordance with a state Supreme Court ruling in 2013 that ban sweepstakes in the state. The injunction against enforcement was also lifted.

On the other hand, a loophole left in the state law allowed a certain type of gaming software.

“The legislature has left a statute in place that, despite whatever anybody says or you hear, is unclear as to its applicability to some of the software that’s being used in these establishments,” said Bill Floyd, City Attorney, at the Laurinburg City Council work session.

Since December, the city issued more than 20 permits to sweepstakes cafes and it is yet to be determined if they will continue to grant permits after June 30.

Meanwhile, Lisa Dubs, attorney of pre-reveal software manufacturer Blue Diamond argued gambling is not illegal in North Carolina.

“We’ve got a lottery, we’ve got Cherokee. We’ve also got skill and dexterity games that are running. There are all kinds of exceptions. It’s not the case that all sweepstakes are illegal or that gambling is illegal,” Dubs cited.

On Wednesday, state Rep. Garland Pierce of Wagram confirmed that the General Assembly was unlikely to revisit the gambling statues. The state, then, will be able to reap financial gains from North Carolina’s sweepstakes industry. State Rep. Goodman agreed with Pierce.

“At the very most the law is unclear. With a criminal statute, when the law is unclear something about it needs to be fixed,” Dubs stated.

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.”