Closures may be temporary for cafes
Video sweepstakes cafes in Henderson remained closed on Friday “temporarily” as some in the industry prepared for new Internet gaming software that they said would comply with North Carolina laws.
The state Supreme Court ruled in December to uphold a state ban on the video sweepstakes that were in operation in 2012, which impacted up to 6,000 jobs at about 600 cafes faced with closure statewide.
Not all of the sweepstakes operations shut down. Reports out of Roanoke Rapids noted that most of the parlors remained open under new software operations that local leaders said was in compliance with state law.
In Henderson, closure impacted five sweepstakes operations, and at least four of them were observing the closure rule as of Friday afternoon.
The largest, Henderson Business Center on West Andrews Avenue, indicated progress toward reopening. Nearby, at Diamond Enterprise Sweepstakes across the street, a sign indicated reopening would take place once software issues could be resolved.
A-Web Internet Cafe on Beckford Drive and Brothers Internet Cafe on Dabney Drive were also closed, with management employees at Brothers saying that they were awaiting further word from Brothers owner Wallace Mangum before announcing any details about reopening.
Tyler Brumfield, a manager at Henderson Business, said that hopes were solid for a reopening there before the weekend was over, but that it could also take until early in the workweek to get new software up and working.
“We are looking to open up again in the next couple of days,” Brumfield said. “We are waiting for some program downloads. I believe we will be open at least by early next week.”
Minnie Carroll, another manager at Henderson Business, said previously that the closing would take place at least temporarily because of fines that are simply too much of a threat.
Sweepstakes halls have cropped up because of what state Supreme Court justices called a loophole since the state outlawed video poker machines in 2007. Sweepstakes parlor patrons buy Internet or phone time that gives them the opportunity to uncover potential cash and prizes with mouse clicks on a computer screen.
Last month the court ruled in two cases that a 2010 state law banning sweepstakes machines as a form of gambling regulates the act of playing, which opponents say feeds the same gambling addictions as traditional video poker machines. The industry had argued there’s no gambling because prizewinners are predetermined.
The U.S. Supreme Court last week rejected the industry’s request to block state enforcement while businesses appealed to the country’s highest court, a step expected by mid-March.
According to Henderson Finance Director Kathy Brafford, the cafes paid $228,000 into the city’s general budget for the 2012 fiscal year. Each paid an electronic gaming operations annual fee of $2,000 plus a $1,000 fee for each terminal that runs for a day or more of the fiscal year.
The Henderson Business Center paid $80,000, Brothers Internet Cafe paid $44,000, A-Web Internet Cafe paid $37,000, Good Luck $35,000 and Diamond Enterprise Sweepstakes $32,000.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.