BURKE COUNTY, NC -- Some 56 gamerooms that were raided and shut here in mid-March might reopen soon. On April 19, Burke County became the third North Carolina county to uphold the right of operators to run Internet-based sweepstakes gaming machines. Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Beverly Beal issued a ruling to prevent local law enforcement from filing charges against the operators involved in running the games.
Earlier pro-sweepstakes rulings included preliminary injunctions against using gambling laws to seize machines or file charges against their operators in Wake and Guilford counties. Beal's ruling expanded the earlier injunctions to cover Burke County. The judge also ordered police to return seized machines.
Beal's ruling, which technically applies only to plaintiffs in the case, restricts operations to four sweepstakes machines in one venue. It also requires prominent posting of rules (including a free-play option) and a "legitimate sale of a telephone time ticket or free play coupon" as part of a machines' activity.
Separately, the city council in Carolina Beach, NC, has banned the opening of new sweepstakes game parlors for 60 days and established a $3,000 renewal fee that existing parlors would have to pay annually. City officials said they hope to check the growth of the venues while they learn more about relevant laws and the economic impact of the machines.