Legality of Sweepstakes Debated Across County Lines

North Carolina's Attorney General says video gambling is illegal but in one Triad county, sweepstakes businesses are up and running.

ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, N.C. -- North Carolina's Attorney General says video gambling is illegal, the state's Supreme Court has ruled sweepstakes parlors are against the law, and businesses have been shut down for operating these types of enterprises. But in one Triad county, sweepstakes businesses are up and running.

"Many of the machines that are out there are not legal and they're operating and the reason they're operating quite simply is because some district attorneys won't prosecute," explained Sheriff BJ Barnes, Guilford County Sheriff's Office.

Last year, Sheriff Barnes and his deputies shut down several sweepstakes businesses which failed to comply with the law. He says he's not aware of any that have reopened in Guilford County.

READ: Sweepstakes Ban: Guilford Co. Sheriff Cracking Down

"I have a lot of different vendors in this particular county who want to do the right thing and they want to obey the law, but yet they look around and they see others and other counties and other jurisdictions and stuff that are not following the law," said Barnes.

WFMY News 2 found several sweepstakes businesses operating in Rockingham County. 2 Wants to Know interviewed the manager of Reidsville's Village Business Center, who says their business can legally operate because of a change in computer software. It's called prereveal and it lets customers know how much money they won or lost at the start of the game. Previously, the reels in the game spun before revealing the prize. It was a system called 'entertaining display' and it's against the law.

READ:Some Sweepstakes Reopen With New Software

Sheriff Barnes says this new software is still considered to be illegal in Guilford County. "Our district attorney, the folks we work with here say they are not legal," said Barnes.

The law seems to be interpreted differently in Rockingham County. According to Rockingham County Sheriff Sam Page, the District Attorney told his office the pre-reveal software is legal.

Rockingham County District Attorney Phil Berger, Jr. did not return WFMY News 2's calls to explain his interpretation of the law.

Sheriff Page said, "When you look at other counties that prosecute sweepstakes but it's allowed in Rockingham County, it gives me concern."


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