In an email to The Anniston Star on Thursday, local attorney Jack Draper, who represents National Promotions, said the business would only be closed temporarily.
Calhoun County Sheriff Larry Amerson and District Attorney Brian McVeigh said in a Wednesday press conference that the operators of the business located near Silver Lakes golf course had shut the place down and moved out all 700 of its sweepstakes machines.
Amerson and McVeigh said the business was using gambling machines, adding that they would quickly shut the place down should it reopen.
“While I respect that the district attorney and the sheriff have stated their opinion, I nonetheless respectfully disagree,” Draper said in the email. “It is my understanding that the website and software are being worked on because of high traffic on the site and that National Promotions intends to reopen.”
A sign on the front of the National Promotions building states the business will reopen soon after the machines and software are upgraded.
Attempts Friday to reach Draper for further comment were unsuccessful.
National Promotions, which opened early this month, used machines that were basically mounted desktop computers with special software and touch-screens. Draper has said the electronic sweepstakes games are not gambling but an inducement to bring in customers for National Promotions’ true business, operating a product bidding site called winandbid.com.
Typical examples of legal sweepstakes in Alabama include prizes awarded from the backs of soda bottle caps and the McDonalds’ Monopoly game. However, the state shut down many businesses that used electronic sweepstakes machines similar to National Promotions’ several years ago, stating they violated Alabama’s anti-gambling laws.
Amerson said Friday his department had information from undercover operations to shut National Promotions down should it reopen.
“If we determine they are open, we will get a search warrant and go raid their business,” he said. “If they are operating as they have been in the past, we would arrest those operating it and shut them down.”
Draper has said it was his intention to sue the state should the business be shut down, providing him an opportunity to prove the legality of the machines in court.
Amerson said he would be surprised if National Promotions reopens at full capacity, given that all the machines could have a total value of several hundred thousand dollars.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if a few machines came back in though,” Amerson said. “It will be interesting to see what they do.”
The people controlling National Promotions, who Draper has declined to reveal, tried to open a business with sweepstakes machines in Oxford earlier this year, Draper said. The business, located on Elm Street in the former Food Outlet next to Sunshine Skate Center, was expected to sell phone time or Internet time and offer sweepstakes to lure in customers. Hundreds of machines were placed in the building but the business was never opened.
Oxford police Chief Bill Partridge said officers had noticed recent activity at the building.
“All we see there are people doing maintenance work,” Partridge said. “I assume the machines are still in there because we haven’t seen them take them out.”
Like Amerson, Partridge plans to shut down the Oxford location should it open.
“They’ll be shut down immediately,” he said.
Though National Promotions may soon reopen, for now, Allison Brown is just glad her neighborhood is quiet again. Brown and her neighbors live on White Oaks Drive, a small road that leads directly to National Promotions. Brown and other neighbors have had concerns about the increase in traffic at all hours of the day and night, to and from the business.
“We’re thrilled, overjoyed,” she said of the closing. “We have our quiet neighborhood back.”
Star staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star