Internet cafes have been around since the early nineties, but recently, they’ve found a new way to lure people… with cash.
Some internet cafes are offering sweepstakes where customers can gamble for cash payouts. There’s a gray area when it comes to the legality of these establishments.
“We’ve been worried since day one… they’ve been after us, they’ve tried to shut us down,” said Internet Café and Sweepstakes manager Ben Korb.
Law enforcement is putting some new aged-internet cafes under the microscope.
“You can get on the internet, you can fax, you can copy, you can do whatever you want to in terms of business services, but most people come in and play the games, which are sweepstakes games, like bingo, or lottery, or Powerball,” Korb said.
Customers who win walk out with cash prizes. The biggest jackpot so far at the Internet Cafe and sweepstakes in Leland is $4,000.
But the legality of this type of gambling is still not clear.
“If there are some narrow exceptions that allow it, of course we’re going to allow them to peacefully exist while that is on the books, but we have real concerns with the violence that’s associated with illegal video gambling or gambling. We’ve had several homicides in our district over the last several years related to this activity,” said New Hanover and Pender District Attorney Ben David.
Manager Ben Korb says he has a business license and his services are legal. “It’s legal the same way Publisher’s Clearing House is legal, the same way Powerball is legal, because it’s all predetermined and whenever you hit the button, if it’s your turn to win you win.”
While Korb’s business isn’t within District Attorney Ben David’s jurisdiction. There are several similar cafes in New Hanover and Pender counties.
“I’m hopeful that we’ll have some clarification soon from higher courts on this issue, because it’s one that affects many communities,” Korb said. He added his business helps boost the economy by creating jobs and potentially providing income for winners.