Black Caucus Pushes Video Poker
Special Report - July 30, 2009
Members of the General Assembly’s Legislative Black Caucus called for the legalization of video poker in North Carolina at a press conference Tuesday. HB 1537Video Gaming Entertainment Act, which was introduced by Rep. Earl Jones (DGuilford), would essentially repeal the current ban on video poker in the state. It would institute a permit process for video gambling in the state and establish a 20 percent state tax on profits. Because the bill sponsor asserts that “law enforcement shouldn’t be involved in gaming activity in the state,” the bill provides for the Department of Revenue to oversee implementation and enforcement of the law.
Eight of the eleven members present used the press conference to argue that the legalization of the video gambling could help to plug the state’s current budget hole by generating revenue from permit sales and taxes on revenue. They claim that recent court rulings have legalized video poker in the state, despite the statutory ban and as long as the games are legal in the state, the state should be collecting taxes on that revenue. Legislators see the alleged $500 million revenue stream as a means to avoid cuts to welfare services, healthcare, and education.
Representatives of the gambling industry also spoke at the event, asking for legalization, regulation, and taxation of their activities. Both they and Rep. Jones asserted that gambling is no longer a question of morality in North Carolina as the General Assembly gave a verdict in favor of the policy and ethics of gambling by establishing a state lottery in 2005. Jones sees video poker as “no different from the lottery.” According to Jones, video poker and the lottery are forms of entertainment comparable to a game of golf, except more North Carolinians can afford to partake.
Rep. Jean Farmer-Butterfield told reporters that House Speaker Joe Hackney asked members of the Black Caucus for help “to generate support” for the measure during a meeting where they presented the idea to him.
“We must be clear that gambling is not “gaming,” therefore, gambling is not a game,” said Bill Brooks, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “Video poker is the crack cocaine of gambling and has caused great harm to many families over the years. It took six years to rid the state of this blight, and legislators should not fall prey to the siren song of gambling’s promise of easy money. There is no free lunch here.”
Copyright © 2009. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.