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Lawmaker to pull sweepstakes games from Sanford store

Posted February 14, 2011
Updated February 15, 2011

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— A Lee County lawmaker said Monday that he plans to remove all Internet sweepstakes games from his business to avoid any conflict of interest on the controversial games, which he argues are legal.

Republican Rep. Mike Stone has had video poker and sweepstakes games in and out of his Sanford area stores, such as O'Connell's Supermarket, since 2000.

Although state legislators have tried for years to ban the machines, the industry repeatedly finds ways to survive.

"Every time (courts) come out with a ruling, in 24 to 48 hours, (suppliers) have already adjusted the games and have them back in stores," Stone said. "I'm OK (with it) as long as they're following the law."

In November, for example, a judge in Guilford County ruled part of a ban on sweepstakes games that lawmakers approved in July was too broad to be enforced. Game operators quickly adjusted games so that they don't resemble slot machines to fit under the exception the judge allowed to the ban.

Stone said he supports state regulation and taxation of the games as long as small businesses like his run the show. He opposes turning control over to the North Carolina Education Lottery.

"People may see (my ownership of the machines) as a conflict of interest. I think it just gives me more knowledge of what's going on in the real world," he said.

Stone caught heat for trying to educate fellow lawmakers on the real world last week.

The freshman representative led a closed-door Republican House caucus meeting on gaming. He said Monday that he didn't pick the lobbyists who spoke both for and against video gaming.

Sweepstakes game Lawmaker pulls sweepstakes games from Sanford store

Although he didn't control the debate, he said he now regrets any appearance of secrecy and influence.

"I think we've also made mistakes we need to learn by," he said.

After a critical article in The News & Observer newspaper in Raleigh about the closed-door meeting and Stone's ownership of sweepstakes machines, he said he decided to pull the money-making machines out of his Sanford store.

"We want to make sure and clear that, if we go ahead and vote, we can vote and not have to abstain because we're currently making money on the industry," he said.

If lawmakers again vote to outlaw video gaming, he said he would accept the majority opinion. He said he wants a final decision that will create a fair competitive market for all private retailers.

24 Comments

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  • blackdog Feb 15, 2011

    A recent expose about online gambling, revealed the enormous amount of money being made. But, it is made by a very few controllers of the site. You may as well send your money to that Nigerian lawyer who has $5,000,000 for you waiting on you sending a small fee.

  • Tarheel born Feb 15, 2011

    "The more things change, the more they stay the same".....

  • kjackson47 Feb 15, 2011

    Why is sweepstakes such a big deal?
    If people want to play sweepstakes let them

  • OMG52 Feb 15, 2011

    It is interesting that the law put Mr. Godwin in prison for video poker but this man has not even been arrested.

  • RM24 Feb 15, 2011

    I personally think our state has enough problems not to worry or put alot of effort worrying about video poker machines. We spend way to much money and time trying to protect someone from wasting their money gambling. The government waste a large percentage of the money it receives in taxes so people may as well be able to waste theirs.

  • NC Reader Feb 15, 2011

    Those who complained about the corrupt Democrats should complain just as loudly about the corrupt Republicans. Corruption is not party-specific. It is PERSON specific. Some individuals get so enamored with power that they think the rules no longer apply to them or that they can do whatever they want with impunity. Mark Sanford and John Edwards are both prime examples of this, but there are many more. On the other hand, there are really fine people in both parties who serve in elected roles. They maintain their integrity despite all the temptations not to do so. Those are the people we need in office, whether they've been in for a year or twenty. The others need to go.

  • Libandproud Feb 15, 2011

    Heather, I am also a Sanford resident and acquaintance of Stone, and I did not vote for him either. This issue was one of the reason, the other reason was the fact that I received DOZENS of robocalls on his behalf funded by Americans for Prosperity, one of those shadowy organizations that sprung up after the Supreme Court's Citizen's United ruling. I had to wonder why the billionaire Koch brothers of New York were interested in a low-level state election in central North Carolina, and decided it couldn't be a good thing for the citizens of Sanford.

  • Road-wearier Feb 15, 2011

    So the Republicans are in charge now. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Don't care which side of the aisle they're on, they're all looking out for themselves first, their contributors second, and the voters third. Thieves.

  • turbopir8 Feb 15, 2011

    Just legalize it and the illicit drugs we spend billions to stop and never do, tax them at astronomical rates, and then lower the taxes for the rest of us who don't engage in this stuff. Let the users pay for their own vices and give the rest of us a break. If they cheat the system at that time, arrest and convict them.

  • ConcernedNCC Feb 15, 2011

    You'd think that lawmakers would be smart enough to write a law that is specific and does the job it's meant to do...but maybe that's asking too much, having intelligent lawmakers, I mean.

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