- Associated Press - Thursday, September 18, 2014

SMITHFIELD, N.C. (AP) - Johnston County’s district attorney is warning Internet sweepstakes operators they must close by Nov. 1 or face the possibility of criminal charges.

District Attorney Susan Doyle sent letters to more than a dozen businesses this week, The News & Observer of Raleigh (https://bit.ly/1p2bFbJ) reported. Doyle warns that authorities have evidence showing each business is operating illegally.

Doyle said Wednesday that her office and the sheriff’s department sent letters to 14 businesses. She says she’ll start filing criminal charges beginning Nov. 1.

State lawmakers banned sweepstakes games that use entertaining displays in 2010. The North Carolina Supreme Court upheld the law in 2012.

Those businesses still operating say their games use revised computer software that makes them legal. Different court rulings have come down in various cases around the state.

Some parlors are using “game-of-skill” systems, where a player has to complete a task, often simple, to redeem their prize. Software manufacturers and owners have said that “game-of-skill” systems avoid the state ban, which bans games of chance.

“There is definitely a lack of clarity of whether the new games comply with the statute or violate the statute,” said Jeff Welty, an associate professor of public law and government at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Welty said that ambiguity has led to uneven law enforcement across the state.

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Information from: The News & Observer, https://www.newsobserver.com

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