Bill Would Legalize Video Poker
Special Report - April 28, 2009
Legislation that would legalize video poker again in North Carolina and give a percentage of the gambling profits to the State was recently introduced in the General Assembly. HB 1537-Video Gaming Entertainment Act, which is sponsored by Representative Earl Jones (D-Guilford), would allow the State to license businesses to operate registered video gaming machines with cash payouts. Video gaming operators would then be required to “pay 20 percent of the gross income from each video gaming machine issued a permit” to the North Carolina Department of Revenue. Currently, the bill has no cosponsors.
Video poker has been illegal in North Carolina since 2007, when it was completely phased out as a result of a law passed by the General Assembly. Prior to this, video poker was legal in North Carolina since 1993, and the gambling devices were regular fixtures in convenience stores and bars across the state, although it was illegal for the machines to make cash payouts to gamblers. However, many businesses were operating the video poker machines illegally and paying out money prizes, which is one of the reasons the General Assembly voted to ban video poker in the state.
“It’s hard to imagine that there would be more than a handful of supporters in the General Assembly to bring back video poker,” said Bill Brooks, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “The Senate passed bills banning the machines in three different sessions before a House compromise bill in 2006 allowed video poker to be phased out by 2007. Gambling experts consider video poker the ‘crack cocaine’ of gambling, and the problems with regulating the machines and the scores of compulsive gamblers and ruined families are what led the legislature to banish the machines.”
On April 9, a separate bill reaffirming the House’s opposition to video poker was introduced by Representatives Ray Rapp (D-Haywood), Melanie Goodwin (D-Montgomery), Ronnie Sutton (D-Robeson) and Nelson Dollar (R-Wake). House Resolution 1418Reaffirm Opposition to Video Poker has 26 cosponsors, and states, “The House of Representatives wishes to reaffirm its position that video poker should be banned in North Carolina.” The resolution cites the history of video poker in North Carolina, including the General Assembly’s ban of the machines in 2006, and several recent court rulings that it says “hindered law enforcement and lawmakers from ridding the State from video gambling machines.”
For more information on the history of video poker in North Carolina, including the harms to families, download our policy paper, “Video Gambling: Why a Total Ban is a Safe Bet.”
Copyright © 2009. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.