RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) – They’re called raffles, business centers, or fishing games and they’re basically mini-casinos.
For years, the police have tried to crack down on them. CBS 17 first told you about the growing trend in 2019. A bill is currently being proposed to regulate them.
The idea is to put in place rules on how raffle lounges are allowed to operate and to require that they have licenses and certifications.
A lot of people call them “fishing tables,” basically video game participants can bet money. In North Carolina, they are legal if it is a game of skill and not of chance.
But for years, law enforcement has struggled to enforce this.
“These are breeding grounds for crime – citizens complain to the sheriff when their spouse loses their rent money or grocery money,” said Eddie Caldwell of the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association.
The measure is called House Bill 954. Under the bill, the lottery commission would issue licenses to run one of the businesses. The measure would cap the number of manufacturers and operators, retailers would have to hold an active license to control alcoholic beverages, and could only operate a maximum of six machines.
“Gambling and alcohol are a bad combination, and to require there to be alcohol, what this bill would do is throw gasoline on the fire,” Caldwell said.
At a committee meeting earlier this week, Caldwell expressed his concerns.
A portion of the revenue from the bill would be used to fund a forgivable loan program for community college students and help some state colleges.
“They should be regulated because there aren’t a lot of casinos here in North Carolina,” said Alwaleed Alsafadi, director of a raffle parlor in Raleigh.
CBS 17 asked Alsafadi if he had any concerns working in such a company.
“Not really, not really,” he replied.
CBS 17 has contacted Rep Harry Warren (R-Salisbury) who sponsored the bill for an interview. We were told he didn’t do them. At the committee meeting, he said he would welcome suggestions.
It is not known if the bill has enough support to pass.