SALISBURY – New Pre-Reveal Skill Games have law enforcement shaking their head because they look exactly like the old ‘now banned sweepstakes games” with one catch, they’re not. Salisbury police are starting to enforce the use of sweepstakes machines but would not comment on if the new ‘pre-reveal skill games’ were legal or not. In a letter, the department gave businesses until the end of the year to cease operations or face possible prosecution.
Capt. Melonie Thompson with the Salisbury Police Department looks through a folder devoted to the sweepstakes investigation. She said undercover officers went into multiple internet cafes and what they found is against the law.
“It’s a game of chance. You’re pushing a button, you hope that you’re winning, and that’s what makes it illegal,” said Thompson.
The North Carolina Court of Appeals upheld North Carolina General Statute 14-304.6 in 2012. That statute “bans the operation of electronic machines that conduct sweepstakes through the use of an ‘entertaining display.’” Rocky goes on to explain “the legality comes down to several factors, one, does the player enter the sweepstakes by use of entertaining display ? and two, is the prize shown by use of the entertaining display ? If so, then its illegal.”
“There’s not any specific thing that the letter states other than this broad spectrum of the statute has from 2010,” said Pruitt. “It’s devastating because you’re now looking at here at the holidays. Not only will I be out of work and not have a business but my staff.”
Ironically, counties across the state are catching up to the North Carolina Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the statute regarding sweepstakes that use entertaining displays but with the introduction of the new skill games it makes enforcement blurry and unclear. “If it’s gonna be on the books it should be spread across the entire state not pick and choose,” said Pruitt.
Entertainment Display Defined By State
According to the letter from police, businesses in violation of the statute will be charged with breaking the law on or after Jan. 1. The statute reads that it’s “illegal” to operate any computer game of chance associated with a price of “value.” That uses a “entertainment display”
“I just feel like right now Salisbury has enough crime and enough problems,” said Pruitt.