Lawmakers expand gambling, hunting in final hours of session
Posted June 29
Updated June 30
Raleigh, N.C. — In the waning hours of session Thursday, state lawmakers sent Gov. Roy Cooper measures that would expand Sunday hunting and allow "casino nights" with alcohol for charities and other groups.
Hunting is currently banned between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on Sundays, and Sunday hunting is banned in Wake and Mecklenburg counties. House Bill 559 would expand Sunday hunting to state gamelands in addition to private property, but morning hunting is still prohibited and no hunting can take place within 500 yards of a place of worship. The legislation also mandates that Wake, Mecklenburg and all other counties must allow Sunday hunting unless voters choose to ban it by countywide referendum.
Supporters say the change will encourage family hunting excursions on the weekends, but religious conservatives were opposed to the change.
Another bill headed to the governor's desk would allow "casino night" events despite the state's ban on gambling. Those events could be held by employers and trade groups as well as charities and nonprofits, as long as no money is paid for admission or in prizes. It would also allow alcohol to be served at the events. The games offered could include roulette and sweepstakes machines, even though the machines are otherwise banned by state law and subject to seizure.
First proposed by representatives from counties where law enforcement deems "casino night" fundraisers illegal, the bill initially sought to clarify that the events are allowed and that they can be held at locations where alcohol is served, but its scope expanded somewhat during the legislative process.
The restaurant and lodging industry supported the changes, but many religious and social conservatives said weakening the state's gambling ban and adding alcohol to the mix is a mistake.