Bill Would Legalize Video Poker
Special Report - June 25, 2012
This week the North Carolina House is scheduled to resume consideration of legislation that would essentially legalize video poker in the state by taxing video sweepstakes gambling. The House Finance Committee began hearing testimony on the bill, HB 1180-Video Sweepstakes Entertainment Tax, last Thursday, and is expected to resume consideration of the bill tomorrow, June 26 at 8:30 AM. The legislation’s true intent, which is cleverly disguised behind the title of the bill, “Video Sweepstakes Entertainment Tax,” is to legalize the existing video sweepstakes gambling establishments across North Carolina, and authorize an unlimited number of new establishments with an unlimited number of gambling machines, almost all of which allow access to video poker.
So far, these gambling parlors, sometimes known as "sweepstakes cafes" or "internet cafes," have been popping up across the state, and operating under a legal cloud. Two lawsuits challenging a 2010 law that prohibits video sweepstakes gambling are currently pending before the North Carolina Supreme Court. If the State Supreme Court upholds the law, it could shut down these establishments for good. Rep. Bill Owens (D-Pasquotank), who is sponsoring HB 1180, told committee members last week that the state would never be rid of these operations because they would keep going back to court again and again. The North Carolina Family Policy Council does not agree with this assessment, since this form of gambling has been banned in numerous other states, and there is no reason it cannot be banned here.
“HB 1180 would legalize a form of gambling that the General Assembly has consistently fought to ban over the past several years, beginning with the ban on video poker machines in 2007,” said Bill Brooks, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “Video sweepstakes machines are essentially video poker machines in disguise, and gambling addiction experts have said that they are just as addictive as the old video poker machines. Video gambling has been described as the ‘crack cocaine’ of gambling because of its intensely addictive qualities.”
Brooks added, “Legalizing video sweepstakes establishments will result in an exponential increase in the mini-casinos that already blight the landscape of North Carolina, and a rise in the number of gambling addicts in the state. Furthermore, by taxing these gambling establishments, the State would become a partner in legalizing and promoting gambling activities that prey on its most vulnerable citizens. This is a sleeper issue, coming at what is supposed to be the last week of the biennial session. This bill is open ended,” continued Brooks, "as there is no limit to the number of machines and the number of venues that could be operated in the state. It is a gambling industry bill."
As noted, the House Finance Committee is scheduled to resume consideration of HB 1180 on Tuesday, and if the measure passes the committee, it could be on the floor of the full House for a vote the same day. Read the North Carolina Family Policy Council’s Issue Brief on HB 1180, “Analysis of Bill to Legalize Video Poker.”
Governor Perdue Wants More Gambling - June 8, 2012
N.C. Appeals Court Strikes Sweepstakes Ban - March 8, 2012
AG Issues Sweepstakes Ban Advisory - December 6, 2011
Competing Gambling Bills Filed - March 9, 2011
Bill Filed To Broaden Sweepstakes Ban - January 28, 2011
Court Won't Stay Gambling Ruling - January 1, 2011
Attorney General's Advisory Letter - December 2, 2010
Gambling Ban Moves Ahead - November 30, 2010
Sweepstakes Lawsuits Dropped - October 26, 2010
Injunction On Internet Gambling Fees - October 18, 2010
Gambling Operators Sue Cities - August 13, 2010
Perdue Signs Gambling Ban Bill - July 22, 2010
House Passes Video Gambling Ban - July 8, 2010
It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over: Video Gambling Returns to North Carolina - FNC- April 2010
Copyright © 2012. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.