Burlington police give sweepstakes cafes 1 month to shut down

BURLINGTON, N.C. — One month.

That’s how much time sweepstakes businesses have to shut down before Burlington’s fully-enforced ban on the the gambling games goes into effect.

Burlington police announced the decision Tuesday.

Over 18 months, Burlington police analyzed crime in the city and determined “the illegal gambling occurring at Internet Sweepstakes and Fish Game businesses is the cause of a significant portion of all violent crime in Burlington,” the department said in a news release.

BPD specifically connected first degree murder, armed robbery, shootings and other serious assaults to the businesses.

“The continued operation of internet sweepstakes and fish game locations present substantial danger to the citizens of Burlington and negatively impact public safety,” the release said.

Starting Oct. 15, police plan to enforce North Carolina General Statute 14-306.1A, which prohibits the operation of any slot machine and other forms of electrical, mechanical, or computer games that requires payment and offers a possible prize, not dependent on skill.

Violators face a Class 1 misdemeanor on first offense, a Class H felony on second offense and a Class G felony on further offenses.

People operating five or more slot or fish games face a Class G felony.

The police chief said BPD would notify sweepstakes cafe owners and employees of the upcoming enforcement by letter to give them time to comply.

Owners and employees face criminal charges if they do not.

Burlington is currently home to about 30 internet sweepstakes and fish game locations.

Police ask anyone with information regarding the location or ownership of a sweepstakes of fish game location is asked to call the Burlington Police Department at (336) 229-3500.