Phone card sweepstakes dodge gambling ban in US

North Carolina court finds for 'sweepstakes' games loophole, but this issue has a way to run

The so-called sweepstakes parlours in North Carolina have dodged the legal bullet following a finding by an appeals court which preserved a broad ban on physical video poker machines, but found that phone card sweepstakes do not at present constitute illegal conduct.

Sweepstakes parlours sell phone cards to punters which gives them Internet time on virtual video poker slot machines, creating a legal loophole which has been the cause of repeated clashes between enforcement officials and sweepstakes parlour operators in the United States.

This week the media in Raleigh, North Carolina reported that the court finding supports operator claims that their business isn't gambling because patrons are paying for computer time or a phone card. Operators say that the hands of video poker or results from virtual slot machines on computers are promotional devices used to coax customers to buy a product and get a chance to win a prize.

This round of the enforcement vs. operators tussle in North Carolina is over...for now. A Superior Court judge in High Point has blocked police from cracking down on the sweepstakes parlours until a lawsuit specifically over their legality is resolved.

Legislative leaders say they plan to keep an eye on the lawsuit and the industry, and there will undoubtedly be further developments in the new year.

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