The same Superior Court Judge in Davidson County that signed the temporary restraining order banning law enforcement officers from shutting down sweepstakes businesses dismissed the case completely on Monday.
On Dec. 14, the state Supreme Court ruled that the 2010 law that outlaws video sweepstakes machines, called N.C. General Statute 14-306.4, is constitutional and therefore can be enforced by law enforcement officers.
On Jan. 28, Superior Court Judge Robert Johnson signed a temporary restraining order that prohibited law enforcement agencies from taking action against sweepstakes business owners who use software made by International Internet Technologies (IIT).
The restraining order was requested by International Internet Technologies and Hickory Tree Business Center against North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, Secretary of Crime Control and Public Safety Kiernan Shanahan and Davidson County Sheriff David Grice.
The order was filed Jan. 28 and attempted to enjoin law enforcement officers from enforcing the sweepstakes ban until a judgement could be rendered about IIT’s software.
The state answered the order by filing a motion to dismiss the entire case based on a “lack of subject matter jurisdiction because all issues in this case have been decided … ,” the motion said in part.
The state argued that the issues in the original case called Hest, International Internet Technologies v. State ex rel. Perdue are the same issues in the current case and the Supreme Court has already made a decision about the original case.
“Judge Johnson has recommended that the General Assembly and the Supreme Court meant exactly what they said,” said Eddie Caldwell Jr., executive vice president and general counsel to the N.C. Sheriff’s Association.
Caldwell said the association was pleased that the judge dismissed the lawsuit in its entirety.
“Any law enforcement agency with jurisdiction will be able to enforce the law as the General Assembly wanted them to,” Caldwell said.
Jerry Kontos, an assistant city attorney for Winston-Salem, caused a turning point in the hearing when he testified that the IIT system demonstrated at the hearing was not the same as what he had seen the company use in Forsyth County.
Kontos said between Jan. 17 and Jan. 23, he visited a business that used IIT software that used a display that was similar to that of a slot machine. The slot machine format was static until the “reveal” button is clicked, Kontos said. Then, it reels and comes to a stop, he said.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs left the courtroom without commenting on the decision.
Richmond County Sheriff James Clemmons Jr. said that he will follow the letter of the law.
“The D.A.’s office and myself are in agreement to follow the rules of the court,” Clemmons said.
District Attorney for District 20A, Reece Saunders, said that while he hasn’t seen the paperwork from the dismissal yet, he is advising law enforcement officers to take action if they find a business in violation of the general statute.
“I just want the law enforced,” said Saunders.
Jerry Bass, owner of JB Business Center, is the only sweepstakes business in Hamlet. Bass’ business has the sweepstakes software made by IIT. Officials believe this is the only remaining sweepstakes business left in operation in the county.
Clemmons said that Bass has been a gentlemen and has always followed the rules. “He is aware of the law,” Clemmons said of Bass.
The sheriff said that he has no issue with Bass and knows that Bass will close down his business without any law enforcement action needed.
A phone message left for Bass by the Daily Journal on Tuesday went unanswered.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report. Staff Writer Laura Edington can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at email@example.com.