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Charlotte Area News

Police Not Sweeping Sweepstakes Parlors

Charlotte-area police say they have no plans to immediately sweep through so-called "sweepstakes parlors" enforcing a new statewide ban in internet gambling operations. Many sweepstakes parlors opened for "business as usual" today, despite a new law making their most popular gambling games illegal. Shop owners believe a recent superior court ruling gives them some wiggle room to stay in business. And for now, CMPD Captain Mike Campagna says law enforcement will leave them be: "It's important that we take a very thoughtful approach because industry is going to fight this case - we're fairly certain of that," says Campagna. "We want to make sure we do everything right on our end so when those cases get to trial they have solid footing to stand on." Campagna says storming into sweepstakes parlors and seizing machines could jeopardize those cases in the long run. Police and sheriff's departments statewide say they're waiting for more guidance from the North Carolina Attorney General. A spokeswoman for the AG's office says state attorneys are drafting an opinion based on conflicting court rulings about the internet gambling ban. Campagna says CMPD would like to see the sweepstakes parlors shut down. "It's something that doesn't fit in, necessarily, with our idea of healthy business practices," says Campagna. "We want to reduce crime in the county, and one of the ways we're doing that is going to be closing down some of these establishments." Critics have argued the approximately 100 sweepstakes parlors in Mecklenburg County are a crime magnet because they're open 24/7 and tend to encourage loitering. Campagna says there's no evidence of that, but it's increasingly common for internet gambling businesses to be the victims of violent robbery, because they handle large amounts of cash.