Those “in the know” in the sweepstakes internet cafe business have been carefully watching the current General Assembly in North Carolina. The session has been meeting to discuss a number of issues, but somewhere on the list was the proliferation of sweepstakes machines across the state.
It is unclear whether the concern is about sweepstakes internet cafes attracting “undesirables” (like a casino), or simply that the state needs to have its fingers more deeply thrust into these business owners’ wallets. In any case, rumors ran wild as the politicians had a sweepstakes gaming discussion on the agenda. Some pundits believed the sweepstakes games would be completely shut down, others thought they might be taxed, and many believed that at the end of the day nothing would change.
Just to be clear, this certainly isn’t the first time that Internet sweepstakes software has been in the crosshairs of state and local authorities. About two years ago a very similar incident took place in North Carolina. For a short while sweepstakes machines were out of luck, until a loophole was found and they were back in business. The state of Virginia has gone back and forth on the issue, and sweepstakes gaming in Florida has been checkered with controversy.
Let’s get real, folks. It LOOKS like gambling. People that don’t fully understand how the technology works (Hello “bad boys, cops of North Carolina”) are likely to embark on a crusade to save the world from the evils of what appears to be gambling. From across the state they can be heard chanting ”If it looks like a duck…” Well, the truth is that it is NOT a duck. But it takes someone more qualified than your average police officer to know the difference. Heck, *I* can’t even tell the difference half the time and I’ve been in this business for years. So I’m not trying to throw the local law enforcement under the bus.
The good news is that at the end of the day today the North Carolina state legislature has tabled the discussion on sweepstakes. This is a BIG WIN for advocates of the sweepstakes gaming industry. Does this mean that there’s no way the government can cause any trouble with sweepstakes in this session? Unfortunately not. But it DOES mean that it’s much, much less likely.
Furthermore, even if the worst case scenario happens (which most of us feel is extremely unlikely) and the state tries to close down sweepstakes games instead of imposing a small tax, it would still take at least six months to execute. Of course, during this time the decision would be challenged and we could anticipate even more delays before any real action is taken. The hundreds and hundreds of business owners across the state wouldn’t go down without a fight. And in the meantime, with good software in the right location these businesses can easily recoup the entire initial investment in 3-4 months. Contact us for details on that–it’s what we do best.
A hearty “high five” to all those advocates of sweepstakes gaming in North Carolina. It looks like we’re still in the game!