Brief visit to sweepstakes establishment is a sure bet

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By Laura Lewis, Reporter

I want to be a winner. Who doesn’t?

It’s better than the alternative.

Maybe that’s why I made one of my rare treks to a sweepstakes facility this past Monday afternoon. I was also doing investigative reporting about the confusing status of sweepstakes businesses in Brunswick County and beyond.

This latest visit was to Winner’s World in Calabash, which for reasons not yet made clear, seems to be one of the last surviving sweepstakes institutions in the Seafood Capital—for now.

This is since the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled last week the ban on such establishments could be “enforced” by local law officers, at least until the diligent team of sweepstakes-industry lawyers find more loopholes.

Winner’s World Lucky Sweeps is adorned with a grinning leprechaun on its sign—a plucky promise of lucky money if ever there was. After all, we all know how lucky the Irish are with “pots”—pots of gold and potatoes, too.

Hoping to win big in these games isn’t just about the money—and it’s a good thing. Proprietors have posted signs urging players to have fun, too.

The number of sweepstakes players who have struck pay dirt, ala winning the lottery, is unclear. Ditto for how often any winnings are fed back into the machines.

I last visited this same spot a few years ago, when it was going to cost me a minimum of $5 to play. I found it far too risky to part with that kind of money and opted out.

Monday, thanks to the shaky state of the sweepstakes economy and inflation, the ante-up fee had gone up. A new rule had been posted: “Due to new system changes, monies can only be added to machines in $10 increments. Thank you for your continued support. Good luck.”

Nice employees at the institution wouldn’t let me take interior photos, but allowed me a closer-up and personal view of one of the poker machines, which have gotten confusing.

They used to be connected to the Internet. Now they’re not, the employee adamantly asserted. Another loophole?!

How do these machines work? I asked.

“Do you play poker?” he responded. “Come and I’ll give you the $2 tour.” (Except it costs more than $2 to play.)

Most poker is jacks or better, he said. “It’s like Yahtzee.”

There was no dice that I could see, just rooms full of jingling, jangling machines. They were sounding off either from bells or the money they had consumed, or both.

I had a choice of games I could’ve played—Super Shamrocks, Superball Keno, Tens or Better, Jacks or Better, Hi-Roller Jacks, Big Shamrock 7s, Joker Poker, Wild Jokers, Deuces Wild, Big Time Deuces and Black Gold 21.

Just like last time, I and my current financial state declined to part with any sawbuck that might be lurking in my wallet.

At the rate I’m going, I’m never going to find out what happens in Vegas.


Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or email llewis@brunswickbeacon.com.