Raleigh, NC -- The state Senate has put on the fast track a bill to make it clear a 2006 video poker ban includes an alternate form of the games popping up across North Carolina.
A Senate judiciary committee recommended Thursday a bill that tries to close down "sweepstakes cafes" or "business centers" where customers buy Internet or phone time but usually play computer-based games to win cash and prizes. The bill could come up for a Senate floor vote later Thursday.
WFMY's 2 Wants Know did an investigation of how the businesses operate in November 2009. The businesses currently aren't breaking any gambling laws because the winners are predetermined. Legal owners much follow three rules: No purchase necessary, sell a legitimate product and have a finite pool of prizes. Businesses get around the "no purchase necessary" law because they do offer a mailing address to send a written request of a free entry.
RELATED: Nov. 2009 -- Sweepstakes Internet Games Springing Up In The Triad
Judges in three counties have sided with game distributors who say the video screens aren't covered by the ban.
Winston-Salem and Graham city leaders have added additional fees to open an internet sweepstakes business in their city limits. In Winston-Salem, the fee is $2,500 to open the business and another $500 for each machine. In Graham, business owners pay $1,000 to open a store.
The bill passed the committee despite complaints by the industry the bill could put thousands of people out of work who are employed by industry.