Special report: Gambling cafes - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Special report: Gambling cafes

Reported by Max Winitz - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - As the saying goes, 'what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,' but now it seems as though a part of the gambling city is hitting the east coast.

Sweepstakes parlors are sweeping across malls and neighborhoods, providing customers a chance to win some extra cash.

Glen Pierce with Topics Internet Cafe in Hampstead says there is a strong market for these types of businesses, despite the ban of video poker machines that took place three years ago.

Pierce says the law mandates that no wires go into the machine, and a customer cannot insert money into them.

So, instead of gambling directly through the machines, parlor owners shuffled the deck and came out with a new deal.  Pierce has a kiosk in the back of his parlor that transfers money to credits in the machines.

"There are twelve different games on there," said Pierce.  "They just play until they build up credits that they can redeem for cash."

Those few technical changes have turned something that was a crime into something legal.  Step into any district attorney's office in the state and they'll tell you that there's nothing they can do.

"The fact that businesses open up, means that more and more people have determined they can operate a lucrative business and feel they are doing it legally," said New Hanover County Assistant District Attorney Lillian Salcines Bright.

It would appear sweepstakes parlor owners have hit jackpot with their new business ventures, but the deck is about to be reshuffled again.  It's now up to the state legislators to determine if the parlors will fold. 

New Hanover County officials have not yet set any regulations on the parlors.  They can operate in Brunswick County, so long as they are not near a school or places of worship.

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