Sweepstakes charges dismissed
Charges against a woman for operating illegal sweepstakes machines in Waynesville have been dismissed.
Angela Nicholson, who worked at Winner’s Circle on South Main Street, was charged with the misdemeanor in an undercover investigation of local sweepstakes businesses in February.
The law regarding the legality of video sweepstakes machines has been back and forth over the years. But after a Supreme Court ruling in December 2012, sweepstakes became illegal and law enforcement officials across the state began enforcing a ban on the games.
However, many sweepstakes distributors have come out with new software they claim is in compliance with the law. Rather than a game of chance, the new software requires gamers to use “skill and dexterity” to play.
When Winner’s Circle opened, manager Tami Nicholson installed sweepstakes games that she believed were in compliance with the law, however she was charged with operating an illegal sweepstakes machines as well.
After prosecutors presented their case against Angela Nicholson, Judge Monica Leslie dropped the charge, saying the state failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the machines did not require skill and dexterity to play.
Defense lawyer George Hyler of Asheville said the games in question in the case, Sweet Carolina, had a note posted on the machine that it was in compliance with the law.
Hyler has garnered a not guilty verdict for each of the three sweepstakes cases he has defended.
Because the state’s evidence failed to prove the machines illegal, Hyler said he hopes the state will also dismiss the charges against Tami Nicholson.
However those charges are still pending, said District Attorney Mike Bonfoey.
“The facts and circumstances surrounding that case may be different,” he said, declining further comment on the pending case.
Hyler was victorious in a Macon County case in April when the owner of a sweepstakes parlor offering a different software was found not guilty of operating illegal games.
However, in May, a local man was found guilty of operating illegal sweepstakes machines at the 777 store, known to many as the “Rock House,” which was also on South Main Street.
James Locker was cited during the same undercover sting by Waynesville detectives that also led to the arrests at the Winner’s Circle. Judge Monica Leslie ruled that the games used in Locker’s case were illegal.
“Everything under this law is a case-by-case decision,” Hyler said.