Raleigh, N.C. — A bill that would legalize and tax sweepstakes games is scheduled to be heard in the House Finance Committee Thursday morning.
The state has twice tried to outlaw sweepstakes games, which simulate video gambling. However, courts have issued conflicting rulings on the bans and the state Supreme Court is due to take up the cases this fall.
Under the protection of those clashing rulings, sweepstakes parlors have spread across the state. Dozens of businesses operate in Raleigh alone.
Gov. Bev Perdue, who long opposed legalizing the games, recently called for them to be taxed in order to better fund education. Rep. Bill Owens, D-Pasquotank, the author of the sweepstakes measure, said that he would also like to see any money raised go toward education.
Owens is a conservative Democrat, one of a handful that could help Republicans override a budget veto by Gov. Bev Perdue. When he first introduced the bill, Owens said that pushing it forward could solidify his support for the GOP budget deal.
"Our caucus will be divided on that," said Rep. Joe Hackney, D-Orange, the House minority leader. He said that it would be difficult to get the bill through the House.
In the Senate, leaders are adamantly opposed. Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger said that his chamber has no plans to review a sweepstakes bill this year.