Charlotte - Rockingham County officials announced today their plans to enforce the state’s ban on electronic gaming with entertaining displays and close operators in the county.
However, not all of the businesses will be shuttered and the ones that may be forced to close will likely change their games and re-open.
District Attorney Craig Blitzer said late Monday that sweepstakes businesses in the cities of Reidsville and Eden and the town of Madison will not be part of the crackdown. Any sweepstakes business operating outside of those municipalities, however, will be shut down.
“I will be shutting down my machines,” said David Holland, who owns a tobacco store in Madison and is Mayodan’s mayor pro tem.
It’s estimated that approx 51 businesses would be closed by July 1.
He said he based his decision to exempt Reidsville, Eden and Madison because officials there were worried about the financial repercussions a crackdown might have as well legal action being taken against them by sweepstakes owners. Casey Rooks, a spokesperson for PreReveal Skill Games says “Ultimately the State has to deal with violations of the statue, we feel extremely confident that our games do not violate the text of the law, we practice showing law enforcement our games and why they are compliant with the law.”
Sweepstakes games are usually found in Internet cafes and often located in shopping centers and convenience stores. They usually feature computer terminals on which customers play games of chance. Rooks explains “When the state defined what constituted an illegal game, the gaming developers plugged in a new game”
Large sums of money is at stake. The City of Greensboro shut down sweepstakes businesses at the beginning of this month, collected $900,000 in licensing fees during parts of 2011 and 2012.
Reidsville collected about $23,000 in 2014.
Eden, looks to lose about $225,000.
“Coming up with a strategy to replace approximately $225,000 in revenues is very difficult,” said Brad Corcoran, Eden’s city manager.
It’s unclear how the county would address a potential refund for those businesses but there is precedence in North Carolina that the county would indeed have to repay those fees.