North Carolina’s gambling laws are extremely stringent and individuals face penalties if they own or operate slot machines, video poker and wager on racing races or lotteries other than the state lottery.
A bill introduced in May would authorize the state lottery commission to license and regulate video gambling machines within establishments that sell alcohol – this would provide additional revenue streams to the state government.
A new proposal to legalize video gambling machines has drawn some opposition among lawmakers, though lobbyists representing the amusement and gaming machine industry support it. House Commerce Committee held hearings for legislation which could allow state lotteries to regulate video gambling machines as part of state gambling revenues, giving states a cut. This plan has lobbyist support.
Lawmakers have spent years trying to crack down on illegal video gambling machines found in sweepstakes parlors, but court rulings have hindered these efforts. One such decision invalidated an injunction protecting two Charlotte businesses from prosecution for breaking state gambling laws.
North Carolina lawmakers and community groups are opposed to legalizing poker machines, citing how the bill doesn’t do enough to address illegal gambling while instead legitimizing predatory machines with state approval.
North Carolina does not establish clear criteria to distinguish games of skill from games of chance, making it hard to ascertain if poker is legal in the state. Gambling operations that violate criminal laws will face prosecution; this applies even when they occur outside a licensed establishment.
House Bill 512 would drastically expand legal gambling in North Carolina. It would regulate video gambling machines through the state lottery commission, require all terminals to have certification stickers, and prohibit merchants from solely running these machines for profit. Furthermore, this bill dedicates 40% of profits back to the state with much going towards supporting HBCUs and community college scholarships.
Senate Bill 333 would legalize private poker games and permit charitable gaming; its passage by the legislature is still being discussed, with voting likely occurring this week.
North Carolina’s laws regarding slot machines are stringent; any person found owning, operating, manufacturing, selling or giving away slot machines without first receiving an official permit are breaking the law and can face fines or jail time if caught violating them.
Even under strict laws, video gambling machines remain popular in some North Carolina bars despite restrictions. While the General Assembly banned them to help curb sweepstakes parlors from opening shop, video gaming machines have continued operating elsewhere within legal gray zones; police departments often are powerless against them due to limited resources and more pressing problems.
Warren proposed legislation to authorize and regulate vending machines. A legislative fiscal analysis estimates that 20,000 lawful machines could generate hundreds of millions of dollars each year for use at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and law enforcement grants as well as community college scholarships or forgivable loan programs. His bill passed a House committee Tuesday; its future in the Senate remains unknown.
North Carolina lawmakers have long attempted to close down illegal gambling machines, and may finally succeed with the passage of a bill through the House last spring. Under this legislation, video poker games and other video gaming machines in establishments with liquor licenses would be regulated by the lottery commission and would generate revenue share payments to the state lottery commission from each game played there.
Conservative state legislators led by John Rustin, president of the NC Family Policy Council and author of this bill are in support, yet critics of it claim it will do little to slow gambling machine proliferation.
Chatham County Sheriff’s Office recently shut down several illegal gambling machines within Chatham County, including 50 at Infinity Gaming Software in Siler City. Deputies found that Infinity Gaming Software violated state law regarding cash payouts for winnings. They confiscated these machines after conducting undercover operations against Infinity Gaming Software.