Federal prosecutors have reached an agreement with six large video sweepstakes companies that requires them to stop providing software to hundreds of internet cafes in North Carolina.
The agreement was announced Wednesday by the office of U.S. Attorney Thomas Walker, the top federal prosecutor for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
According to prosecutors, the companies have agreed to cease all operations in the state by July 1. In return, Walker’s office won’t prosecute the owners of the software companies for past illegal activities.
The companies named in Wednesday’s agreement provide software to more than 600 internet cafes. The companies are White Sands Technology, Sierra Software, TNT Software, Digital Reveal, Figure 8 Technologies, and HSV Entertainment.
HSV actually had a lease with the City of Roanoke Rapids to operate the Roanoke Rapids Theater. That will end May 18th, a big loss for the city.
Law enforcement across the state praised the agreement.
Bill Langston lives next to a sweepstakes cafe along Highway 11 in Lenoir County.
He said this decision will eliminate the possibility of crime and traffic in his neighborhood.
“We’re setting up a situation where someone’s going to get hurt and hurt bad,” Langston said.
“Mary” also lives in the neighborhood.
She is worried how people who depend on sweepstakes for income will survive.
“Too many people is playing sweepstakes now [to] get what money they have to pay the bills with,” she said.
While it is a big step towards closing sweepstakes cafes, it doesn’t shut them all down.
North Carolina legislators have repeatedly passed laws seeking to outlaw the games, which often resemble video slots. However, sweepstakes operators have continued to operate while fighting those bans in court.