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Issue Date: Vol. 50, No. 4, April 2010, Posted On: 3/29/2010

North Carolina Lottery Warns Against 'Slots' (Sweepstakes Games)

by Staff Reporter
North Carolina lottery, video slot machines, sweepstakes, controversy, Tom Shaheen, court of appeals, sweepstakes gamerooms, game rooms, illegal gambling, gambling devices, video poker, video lottery, vending operator, amusement machine, coin machines

CHARLOTTE, NC -- Retail stores that sell state lottery tickets should beware of jeopardizing their status as lottery affiliates by operating "video slot machines," warned the executive director of the North Carolina Lottery. Tom Shaheen sent the warning in a letter to retailers on March 12.

The mention of slots appeared to be a reference to the state's controversial sweepstakes game machines, some of which are Internet-connected. Many of the devices feature slot-style game software on their displays. However, promoters say winners are determined solely by standard sweepstakes rules and regulations -- not by the games of chance shown on the monitors, which are there only for amusement.

Reports of Shaheen's warning surfaced in the NC Insider and the Greensboro NC News-Record. According to press sources, Shaheen's letter stated: "In light of the Dec. 22, 2009, ruling by the North Carolina Court of Appeals, any retailer who possesses and/or operates video gaming machines may be subject to criminal action by local law enforcement officials. If this should occur, and you, as a lottery retailer, are convicted of a felony or gambling-related offense, your lottery license will be revoked."

District judges in at least two counties of North Carolina have upheld the legality of sweepstakes games. State lawmakers, as well as local police in some jurisdictions, have said they can't figure out how to ban the devices without also prohibiting the kinds of sweepstake promotion typically employed by fast food restaurants.

Despite this generally positive legal climate for sweepstakes games, authorities in Burke County shuttered 56 sweepstakes gamerooms recently, as reported VENDING TIMES. Police claimed the machines were illegal gambling devices. See story here.

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