01/14/13 — Officials waiting for word to close cafes

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Officials waiting for word to close cafes

By From Staff And Wire Reports
Published in News on January 14, 2013 1:46 PM

Internet cafes are continuing to operate in parts of Wayne County and across the state in violation of a state Supreme Court ban prohibiting the sweepstakes games as gambling.

Most of the establishments closed last week in compliance with the new laws, but several have since reopened.

Locally, officials are saying they are waiting for word on what to do about the cafe owners who have decided to defy the law.

"I spoke to an A.L.E. agent on Friday about it, and he told me they had a directive not to do anything -- yet," Sheriff Carey Winders said.

When the district attorney's office instructs the Alcohol Law Enforcement agents to do something, Winders said, the Sheriff's Office will gladly assist them in any way possible.

At least one local cafe, Xtech Internet Cafe Sweepstakes at 217 N. Berkeley Blvd., claims to have altered its games to conform to the new legislation and is currently open for business, according to an employee who asked not to be identified.

"They've definitely changed the games, but as far as what they're going to do, I'm just a worker so I don't know but we're just taking it one day at a time," she said.

None of the other Internet cafes contacted answered or returned phone calls.

Statewide, more law enforcement agencies were planning today to begin enforcing the state Supreme Court decision upholding the ban.

Guilford County Sheriff B.J. Barnes said his agency will start enforcing the state law outlawing the machines now that operators who have stayed in business during the court process were given time to wind down. Barnes says any sweepstakes parlor operators remaining in business could be arrested and prosecuted.

Sweepstakes halls have cropped up because of what state Supreme Court justices called a loophole since video poker machines were outlawed in 2007. The court ruled in two cases last month that a 2010 law banning sweepstakes machines as gambling also regulates the act of playing.