KINSTON, N.C. (WNCT) – The North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE) said it will begin enforcing a sweepstakes ban in five eastern North Carolina counties on Sunday.
The ALE gave out 30 day cease and desist letters from December 2 through December 10 to operations in Beaufort, Washington, Martin, Tyrell and Hyde counties.
The letters came from district attorney Seth Edwards.
“They’ve had 30 days, ample time to adjust their affairs and to get their business in order so they can be in compliance with the law,” ALE special agent Eric Swain said.
Some sweepstakes cafes have already shut down as their 30-day period passed while others have a few more days
If businesses don’t comply, Swain said his agency will send out undercover agents.
“They’re going to play the games,” he said. “They’re going to determine that the game is in fact in violation of 14.3-06 before we move forward on those.”
Anyone who possesses more than five machines can be charged with a felony.
Lenoir County businesses must already shut down their sweepstakes games or face prosecution.
9 On Your Side received tips from viewers claiming two Kinston businesses were operating sweepstakes games. A reporter went into those places and did see some forms of gaming machines.
The reporter described them to special agent Swain.
“It’s hard to say without actually looking at it, manipulating the game, playing the game,” Swain said.
9 On Your Side asked him if ALE’s already investigating businesses with sweepstakes machines.
“I’m not going to comment on that,” Swain said. “But I will say, we’re not bluffing.”
Former sweepstakes owners claim they’re not bluffing either.
Lenoir County’s Clover City Internet Cafe posted on its Facebook page about sweepstakes owners meeting in Raleigh to discuss their options.
9 On Your Side asked Clover City owner Janice Thompson for specific details, but she declined to comment.