Late last week, a Senate committee turned H 80 into “Ban Electronic Sweepstakes.” (See the bill’s text at http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2009/Bills/House/PDF/H80v3.pdf.) Electronic sweepstakes is the latest effort by gambling interests to get around the state’s ban on video poker. For more information and reasons to support the bill, here’s an editorial from the [Raleigh] News & Observer:
Let’s get one thing straight: there is no worthwhile distinction to be made between video poker, currently banned in North Carolina with one notable exception, and the electronic “sweepstakes” game parlors sweeping the state.
Both offer what amounts to commercial gambling in a state that has long been wary of that practice. The storefront parlors, in which patrons plunk down dollars – ostensibly to purchase Internet or telephone time – for a chance to play electronic versions of poker, keno and slot machines, are merely a dodge. By setting up their payout systems as pre-determined “sweepstakes” they allow the gaming industry to step oh-so-lightly around the video poker ban that the General Assembly put into effect in 2007.
That ban was enacted for good reasons, centering on payoffs and corruption. There was, in addition, the traditional feeling that North Carolina is not a commercial gambling state, a position that admittedly contains elements of paternalism – who are legislators to tell ordinary folks how to spend their money?
H 80 is calendared for floor action in the Senate tonight. If this is an issue of concern to you, please contact your Senator today, via e-mail or phone. The bill could also move quickly to the House, so it’s not too early to contact your Representative. (Because the Senate amended a bill already passed by the House, it will, technically speaking, return to the House for concurrence.)