State News

NC high court weighs status of video sweepstakes

Posted October 17, 2012

— North Carolina's highest court is deciding whether the state can outlaw video sweepstakes parlors as gambling halls, or whether the video screens give the owners constitutional free-speech rights.

The state Supreme Court's seven-member panel heard arguments Wednesday in two cases in which amusement machine and other companies want to overturn a 2010 law banning video sweepstakes machines as a form of gambling. Sweepstakes halls have cropped up since the state outlawed video poker machines.

A company attorney argued customers can find out from a clerk whether they've won, but using a video screen to share that information is no different than communicating in pictures, French or Braille. Attorney Kelly Daughtry says it's all protected speech.

"They want you to go there. They're not doing it for the heck of it, just for good nature," Daughtry said. "They're trying to get you to buy their product, and that's what my clients are trying to do – to get you to buy their product."

A state government attorney says no one has a right to run a gambling operation.

"It's not a ban on video games. It's not a ban on sweepstakes. It's on a certain delivery system using video games to convey the results of a sweepstakes," said state Solicitor General John Maddrey.

The high court is expected to rule in the next few months.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Rebelyell55 Oct 18, 2012

    They'll leave em and tax the machine, (property taxes, fees for operation of them by the county). Then later on the state will see how to get their share of this money.

  • dearkarma Oct 18, 2012

    Greeting back on track : the argument :

    HB 80 says that it's ok to play a sweepstakes and have your prizes revealed by mail or by LOOKING at a piece of paper.

    BUT the Sweepstakes is illegal if you LOOK at a computer screen to see those same results.

    Paper YES
    Computer NO

    That's how simple this argument is.

    The reason HB80 was reverse is because the NCCOA agreed with the complaint.

    Sweepstakes are legal
    A computer monitor is legal


  • Grand Union Oct 18, 2012

    Hope they ban these things.....Its bad enough we have the Lottery taking advantage of the Mathematically challenged without adding these more seductive and addictive machines.

  • JoCo50 at MXR Oct 18, 2012

    "There is no regulation of these gaming machines or establishments.

    How can the public be assured that the machines are working properly and have not been programmed to give the 'house' an unfair advantage?" james27613

    The house ALWAYS has an unfair advantage. Why do you think these things are popping up every half mile down the road?? Certainly not because they are paying out lots of winnings.

    Also, look at the giant casinos in New Jersey and Las Vegas. Do you think those enormous beautiful places were built and stay in business by paying out a lot of winnings?

  • davidgnews Oct 18, 2012

    Legalize REAL gambling and keep the money in this state. It's silly to let this go to the internet, Vegas, Atlantic City, etc. when we could have those revenues HERE and NOW.

    People that have the money will spend the money, and casinos will make it a little more difficult for the poor to waste their money like they do now with internet gambling and lotteries.

    When will these politicians on Jones St. ever wake up?

  • Dave Green Oct 18, 2012

    The only issues against the video sweepstakes is that the legislature hasn't figured out how to 1. keep it from competing with the state run lottery, and 2. they don't know how to regulate a tax on it.

  • james27613 Oct 17, 2012

    There is no regulation of these gaming machines or establishments.

    How can the public be assured that the machines are working
    properly and have not been programmed to give the 'house' an
    unfair advantage?

    As for chruch raffles, those fall under other existing laws.
    McDonald's contests and games like Monopoly are also regulated.

  • frazee Oct 17, 2012

    I am against them. Go by any of them 1 week before welfare checks go out and count the cars. Then go back after the first week of the month and count the cars. If it wasn't for government handouts they wouldn't survive. I'm sure some people go and spend their hard earned money but most spend mine. Who do you see buying the most lottery tickets? It's the same ones, chasing a non-existant dream life. Most people that actually work hard for their money are too wise to throw it away like this. If I received free housing, food, phone, medical etc and the government paid my way, why not go blow the cash they give me? Work a little side job..... that's who mainly supports these establishments.

  • topfan4unc Oct 17, 2012

    This is part of what's wrong in America. If I work to earn my money, pay my bills and taxes, then I ought to be able to spend it on what I want basically. No one else worked my long hours for that money. Granted, little is left and I do save monthly, but it should be no different in spending it on a vacation somewhere or putting it into a machine if I know what the pros and cons are there. Granted, the owners of these establishments make the most money, but if they do it honestly and pay their taxes, employ workers and pay them, then who is to say it is wrong really.

  • Brian Jenkins Oct 17, 2012

    Can we ban church raffles. Gambling.