RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) - Lawmakers banned games of chance in North Carolina eight years ago. However, sweepstakes cafes are still open across the Triangle. The Wake County sheriff said it’s because the laws are confusing.
Robert Sargent owns a window tinting business in Raleigh. He said that, ever since a sweepstakes cafe opened up next door six months ago, he's noticed some changes around the shopping center.
“We’re leaving late at night sometimes 6, 7, 8 at night and the parking lot is full of people outside drinking and hang out in parking lot getting drunk,” Sargent said.
Sargent said his fears were confirmed on Nov. 10 when he captured some video on his security camera of a crime taking place right in his parking lot.
The incident happened a little after midnight. A car stopped in front of the victim’s car and a man armed with a handgun forced the victim out of the car. Police say the thieves got away with more than $8,000. They dumped the car in Durham and got away.
“Those types of businesses bring violence,” Sargent said. “They just do. I’m not saying they’re the actual cause, but if there’s nobody controlling it, there’s no security there, there’s nobody telling them not to solicit in the parking lot and hang out and get drunk.”
Wake County sheriff Donnie Harrison agreed with Sargent. He said these businesses encourage criminals.
“If we come in there we tell them be careful because you’re dealing with cash, staying open late, you’re just inviting trouble,” Harrison said.
Harrison said there’s confusion on whether or not sweepstakes cafes are legal.
“The legislature hasn’t set a clear definite what’s what,” Harrison saod. “I’ll be honest with you — usually when I get a call, I tell them to call the district attorney’s office because the laws are just not stable right now.”
Harrison said a lot of these types of businesses will get shutdown almost as quickly as they open up. He said many of the owners think it’s worth it.
“They’re making money. They’re making quick money,” Harrison said. ”I told my guys don’t worry about it until the laws are clearer.”