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Sweepstakes Morality...

Before stating anything I feel it is important to know "the source" of this comment. I am currently employed by Triple Seven (777) Sweepstakes (next to Radio Shack) located at 5214 Market Street in Wilmington, North Carolina.

I moved to this area in 2000 after obtaining a Bachelor's degree in Film and Telecommunications with a minor in Sociology to work in the film industry. For nine years I have had the pleasure of working with companies such as Warner Brothers, Disney, Columbia Pictures, Lifetime, VH1, MTV, etc...

Recently, due to some bad restrictions in the North Carolina legislature's film incentive bill, I was practically driven out of my career. Although some of us are still working in the film industry...there just isn't enough work to go around.

As the economy worsens, the struggle has become more and more difficult.

As most of you know, a "job" is not something that is easy to come by right now and a "career" is even harder!

Just recently, I was asked to some part-time work at Triple 777 Sweepstakes. Due to the recent news coverage on such establishments, I was hesitant. What would people think of me? Isn't this a "seedy" operation? Do I want to be surrounded by such people?

To be honest, I can understand how some people can imaging what it is like to be inside a Sweepstakes center. Perhaps you can blame me and my chosen career...film...for this vision! Unfortunately, film, television and the press give us all "ideas" about such establishments. Until I had gone in to one to see for myself, I felt like Sweepstakes centers might be "shady" or "seedy" too.

Recently, I have been doing a great deal of research on "public opinion" on these establishments. Of course, I can not speak for all of them and, like any business, there are sure to be some "bad apples" in the bunch.

I have heard it all. Sweepstakes centers attract a "bad crowd." People say they are havens for drug dealers, criminal types, child molesters, etc... People also say that the government must protect people (from themselves) and stop these establishments from taking money away from the impoverished and those without self control.

After hearing all this...it made me think a little! So, I began to use my college degree in Sociology and analyze who REALLY frequents this establishment. In striking up conversations with the customers they were very open with me. I asked them what they did for a living...why they like sweepstakes centers...etc.

So, at about eight o'clock in the evening one night I examined a cross-section of REGULAR customers.

Some ages are approximate as I didn't want to seem rude.

(2) school teachers (elementary grades)(40's)

(1) Vietnam veteran (58)

(3) hotel workers (30's - 50's)

(1) real estate agent (25)

(1) insurance salesman(40+)

(3) retired female church friends (70+)

(1) car salesman (50+)

(1) "big box" store salesman (30+)

(1) film casting director (40+)

When I discussed with these customers what it was that brought them in...the responses were all generally the same. Here is a hybrid of the general responses...

"Well, I like to play the North Carolina State Lottery...and I like buying scratch-off tickets at the gas stations. I figure if I am going to spend my money anyway...this is a little more fun. I can bring $10 dollars in here and play for hours...or...scratch off a ticket or check a powerball number and it's all over."

Of course, I haven't mentioned the fact that many of these people enjoy getting to know those around them and enjoy the complimentary sodas and snacks.

Now, at this point, it should be more than obvious that these are not "seedy" or "shady" types. These are ordinary, hard working people who are well educated and have a little extra money that they, as Americans, have the right to use as they please.

As for the payouts...they are good. I am not saying everyone leaves with more than they came in with...but some do every day! Once again, we are regulated and can not change the odds...but I can't attest to the honesty of all sweepstakes centers.

Don't make the mistake I almost did and let others make up your mind for you on this subject.

The media can build up or destroy just about anything. Use your own eyes and judgment to make decisions.

I am not sure about the other centers in town, but we were FOR the moratorium that was passed. Why? Because we run a clean and honest establishment and believe that all sweepstakes centers should be operated this way.

People have a right to their opinions on any subject. Their feelings are indeed important. However, if they are feeling with no basis in fact or evidence...they may be false. Please visit a sweepstakes center even if you have no intention of playing. Come inside, ask the manager the "hard questions" and see what the answers are.

If you are afraid of being attacked by a wild pack of bingo playing grandmothers...then bring a friend for protection. LOL

Thanks for your time and attention

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