By Jesse Wood
Jan. 3, 2012. In light of the recent N.C. Supreme Court ruling upholding the state’s ban on sweepstakes gaming establishments, law enforcement officials were directed by the N.C. Attorney General’s Office to re-enforce the ban starting today Thursday, Jan. 3.
Before noon on Thursday, Watauga County Sheriff Len Hagaman personally delivered a letter to each of three sweepstakes establishments in Watauga County to sign that acknowledges the illegalities of the sweepstakes machines. Failure to comply would result in a Class H felony charge.
Hagaman said that both Gold Rush Sweepstakes establishments on N.C. 105 Bypass and N.C. 105 in Foscoe were locked up and no one was present, so the sheriff’s office dropped off the letter.
At the 105 Business Center, however, an employee [not the owner] was present, but the door was locked as well.
“I had no issues at all,” Hagaman said. “[The employee inside] was very pleasant and helpful.”
Hagaman added, “I do not anticipate any issues with compliance.”
After the ruling, industry leaders of the gaming operations stated that would seek find another loophole or seek another way to continue operating under the law.
“We will look into morphing into whatever we need to be under the rule of law to continue our business,” said Chase Brooks, president of Internet Based Sweepstakes Operators, in a statement a few weeks ago.
While Hagaman was hand-delivering the letters, he took a photo of a note on an entrance way of one of the three businesses. It read, “Closing temporarily. Updating software to comply with North Carolina state law … Thanks for your patience … Expected time to re-open 1 to 4 days.”
For more information, read a High Country Press article written on Dec. 20. It describes the history of these sweepstakes games and how they have evolved to remain legal in North Carolina. It also includes an interview with the owner of one of the local sweepstakes operations.