A three-judge panel of the North Carolina Court of Appeals unanimously upheld the conviction of two Edgecombe County citizens charged with violating the State’s ban on video sweepstakes gambling. From the time the sweepstakes ban was passed in 2010, and even after it was upheld by the North Carolina Supreme Court in 2012, the sweepstakes industry has tried to evade the law by modifying the computer programs and methods used to operate the electronic gambling devices. The defendants in this case, State v. Chapman, Spruill, argued that their sweepstakes games were not prohibited by the ban because the prize amount was revealed prior to, instead of after, the game.
In the November 18 opinion, the Court of Appeals stated: “That the sweepstakes is conducted at the beginning of a game versus its conclusion makes no significant difference: the sweepstakes prize is not dependent upon the skill or dexterity of the patron; it is a game of chance.” The opinion concluded, “Therefore, when viewed in the light most favorable to the State, it is clear that the jury was presented with substantial evidence of each essential element of the charge that defendants operated or placed into operation an electronic machine to conduct a sweepstakes through the use of an entertaining display, including the entry process or the reveal of a prize.”
In a statement responding to the ruling, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper described video gambling as “a source of crime and corruption in our state.” He also said the Court of Appeals ruling “makes it clearer that [law enforcement officers] have the authority to crack down on this crime.”