Beaufort - Update:
Law enforcement agencies across Eastern North Carolina are cracking down on sweepstakes operations who were trying to sidestep a law which labels sweepstakes machines as a form of gambling.
After the January 3 ban, some sweepstakes businesses tried to upgrade their software to put the machines outside of the law. In Carteret County, the Sheriff's Office is making it clear a software change won't make the sweepstakes operation legal.
"In the words of the law, the entry process of putting money on the machine and the entertaining display are both still there," said Captain Jason Wank of the Carteret County Sheriff's Office. "We're all on the same page that these businesses are going to remain closed unless we see some type of new laws come out in the future."
11 Sweepstakes businesses in Carteret County have been shut down due to the December North Carolina Supreme Court ruling. However, captain Wank said not all counties are enforcing the ban.
Starting on Thursday, Jan. 3, North Carolina authorities could begin enforcing the state's ban on sweepstakes operations.
Last year, several businesses tried to overturn a 2010 bill that would ban sweepstakes machines as a form of gambling. But in December, the North Carolina Supreme Court upheld the statute, saying it was constitutional. The state had already outlawed video poker machines in 2007, and by banning sweepstakes operations, the justices felt it would close a loophole.
Greenville Police said they were serious about enforcing the ban on sweepstakes operations.
"The Greenville Police Department will monitor the internet café establishments, and expects cooperation from the owners of these businesses pending further court decisions," said Sgt. Joe Friday. "The Department has communicated with the owners of these businesses and will work within guidelines being provided by the North Carolina Attorney General for enforcement of the law."