In March of 2012, the North Carolina Court of Appeals overturned a 2010 law that made certain online casino-style games – as featured in Internet sweepstakes cafes – illegal. These sweepstakes cafes usually feature rows of computer terminals that allow users to participate in several casino-style games in quick succession with the opportunity to win prizes. In exchange, users must pay the café proprietors for Internet access or prepaid phone cards. The payment element is what renders these sweepstakes cafes, or parlors, illegal in most states.
The North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled that the 2010 law was a violation of free speech, as protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. The North Carolina Attorney General has appealed the ruling to the North Carolina Supreme Court, but the case has not been decided yet. While the Supreme Court’s decision will ultimately decide the legality of these types of games, for now various cafes are open for business in North Carolina.
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