State leader demanding answers to sweepstakes operating in Lenoir County

A Lenoir County sweepstakes operation on Highway 11.

KINSTON, N.C. (WNCT) – State Representative George Graham (D) plans to meet with Lenoir County leaders to discuss his concerns on a high number of sweepstakes cafes operating in the county.

Lenoir County District Attorney Matthew Delbridge decided to not prosecute sweepstakes operations and Rep. Graham, who represents the county, questions the legality of that logic.

“If they are operating and they are in compliance with the law, then i don’t have a problem with it,” he said.

Lenoir County Sheriff’s Office Major Ryan Dawson said the District Attorney based his decision on the fact that sweepstakes have a “pre-reveal” feature which tell a player before he plays if they’re going to win a prize.

“So it’s not a game of chance,” Maj. Dawson said. “You know what the end result is going to be.”

That argument is the reason why deputies said they arrested five people for operating video poker machines in a Pink Hill home.

Maj. Dawson said since video poker machines do not have a “pre-reveal” feature, they’re based on the concept of “chance” which is considered the definition of gambling.

Counties in the East including Pitt and Onslow cracked down on sweepstakes parlor, interpreting the law to state sweepstakes are a game of chance.

Major Dawson said the current law is too open for interpretation which is why his office wants lawmakers to clarify it.

“If you can’t eliminate that when you’re writing the laws, then it will help eliminate a lot of the fiasco that comes after it,” he said.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly named Lenoir County District Attorney as C. Branson Vickory III. Vickory was the former District Attorney for the county.

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