RALEIGH (AP) — Federal prosecutors announced Wednesday that they have reached an agreement with six large video sweepstakes companies that requires them to stop providing software to hundreds of Internet cafes in North Carolina.
The office of U.S. Attorney Thomas Walker, the top federal prosecutor for the Eastern District of North Carolina, said the companies have agreed to cease all operations in the state by July 1. In return, Walker’s office won’t prosecute the owners of the software companies for past illegal activities.
The companies named in Wednesday’s agreement provide software to more than 620 Internet cafes, including the one operated inside a large city-owned entertainment venue in Roanoke Rapids.
HSV Entertainment has agreed to terminate its lease to operate the Roanoke Rapids Theater by May 18. City-officials have assured prosecutors they will no longer allow sweepstakes devices back in the theater after HSV leaves.
The other companies involved are White Sands Technology, Sierra Software, TNT Software, Digital Reveal, and Figure 8 Technologies.
North Carolina legislators have repeatedly passed laws seeking to outlaw the games, which often resemble video slots. However, sweepstakes operators have continued to operate while fighting those bans in court, claiming they have made tweaks to the software to make the games legal.
Sweepstakes operators have also aggressively lobbied for legalization, giving hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to North Carolina politicians.