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RALEIGH, NC (AP) — A divided state appeals court has struck down North Carolina’s ban on video sweepstakes machines, saying it is overbroad and infringes on free speech.

Judge Ann Marie Calabria wrote that the Legislature was wrong to categorically forbid screens from conveying the results in a constitutionally protected manner.

The state Court of Appeals ruled 2-to-1 Tuesday to strike down the 2010 law. The split decisions in a pair of lawsuits mean cases involving the Legislature’s long-running effort to stop the spread of video poker-style games are likely to be heard by the state Supreme Court.

The law said sweepstakes operators cannot use a video screen to reveal a sweepstakes prize, but Judge Ann Marie Calabria wrote that the Legislature was wrong to categorically forbid screens from conveying the results in a constitutionally protected manner.

Judge Robert C. Hunter wrote the dissenting opinion, saying the law should be upheld because it regulates conduct, not speech.

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  • Joe

    With no jobs and a less than poor economy, I don’t understand why a state would put 10,000 people out of work and throw away not only individual income taxes but the business income taxes and the business license fees. If North Carolina wants to outlaw gambling, they should add the “Education” lottery (which has a gambling addiction hotline number printed on every scratch off), bingo and home poker games (which are legal). Either gambling is legal or it is not. NC seems to pick and choose. By the way, if internet gambling is illegal, are state law enforcement going to go building to building and confiscate ALL computers? If not, they are again picking and choosing because anywhere a person can access the internet, be it home, work or a public WIFI, they can play the same games for money as they played in an Internet Sweepstakes Cafe. People who wish to play, will play. If they cannot play legally in NC, they will go to the casino boats in Little River or take an excursion tour to Mississippi, Atlantic City, Cherokee, or Las Vegas; and, if you don’t think people on welfare are doing exactly that, you don’t know too many people on welfare. My husband worked at one of those internet sweepstakes places and it was a regular thing for the phone to ring with a call for someone playing to come take a seat in a high stakes poker game at someone’s home. Ten times out of ten, it was a person on welfare. Now tell me what good it does to put 10,000 tax paying workers out of jobs.

  • Destinee

    These people on this page sounds terrible. You speak as everyone that comes to the sweepstakes is poor.(U can’t believe that story)If the people are so poor how do you think they play it actually takes money to play. Most of the people I do see playing are business owners and working class americans’.Surely the reasons people are poor varies but most people that are poor is the hardest working people I have ever seen. These people might haven’t been afforded the chance to futher their education and by circumstances trying to live life. Welfare contrary to opinion does NOT do a lot. No more than food and thats limited and housing and thats in sum instances higher than some house note of working class americans. Be careful how you ridiucule another.If thats there enjoyment please be let these people be happy. Also, suppose you do the same.

  • BladenCountyResident

    Internet Sweepstakes Cafes are a racquet set up for one purpose and one purpose only–to take money from the poor.

    Here in Bladen County, one of the poorest in the state, these “cafes” are popping up like mushrooms.

    In Dublin, one of Bladen’s smaller and poorer communities, a former service station and restaurant is being remodeled to house an Internet Sweepstakes Cafe, and directly across the street from this new cafe is another gambling joint.

    The new internet cafe has arched windows like a church. I have seen the beatup old cars in front of these cafes. And the people driving these cars are poor, nearly destitute, and they are gambling away the welfare money provided by taxpayers. Their children will go lacking, no doubt, while their parents throw away their money.

    It’s the “get something for nothing” mentality at work here. The gamblers come from the littering classes, and you can see their contributions to the environment by their trashy properties–old recliners thrown out of front doors, plastic trash all over their yards. Eyesores everywhere.

    And when I go out to the highway to pick up trash, I have to pick up their paper receipts from the gambling joints!

    That’s how it is here in Bladen. Roadside trash and gambling joints. That about sums it up. And to add to the atrocious litter up and down the highways, we now have the paper receipts from gambling parlors thrown out the windows of losers’ vehicles. And I use “losers” in all aspects of its meaning.

  • Challengetheworld

    We will never be able to educate the massive population of the poor on the value of money. However, we could tax the hell out of it to raise more revenue for the Public Education system in hopes that if we improve our schools in time we will have citizens who realize that this is not the best way to spend money.

    Bring in the casinos and tax the hell out of them. We can all sit back and watch the morons squander their money and hope to educate “our” [the greater public’s] children.

  • Guestt34523

    It sure would be nice if the state would regulate this form of gaming, tax it, and lower my income tax at the same time. Probably not going to happen, but it sure would be nice.

  • Guest461

    …sweepstakes parlor visitors to education. You mention the “get something for nothing” mentality. These are again the same folks that got Obama elected as our president. These are people that neglected to get an education and have chosen to ride the entitlement train for theirs and their families sustainance. They won’t get out and get and education, they won’t get out and get a job, provide zero motivation for ther children to gain an education and success and only breed more generations of the same. These people are lazy and they will continue to be lazy until the entitlements come to an end and they are forced to do something for themselves. The have no appreciation for what is given to them because it is free and they feel that they “deserve” that. A new car and a new house given to them for free would wind up a total wreck in less than a year.

    To begin deserving my vote, I want promises of entitlement reform in a major way and returning the jobs of this country back to the legal citizens here. I don’t mind that my tax money is used to help someone get back on their feet, but I’m sick and tired of it being used to support lifetime entitlements for drug users and dealers to sit on their a$$ to create more lifetime entitlement users!

  • sweepstakes owner

    “That’s how it is here in Bladen. Roadside trash and gambling joints. That about sums it up. ”

    Ok. In your area. That seems to be a problem in just one area. All of the sweepstakes places I have seen, AND I currently run, are top notch, air conditioned, Free drinks and food kind of place. What you dont hear about is some of the contractors who own 10-20 stores giving 4 million $ for the local school for having high test scores. We offer FREE Internet classes that visitors can sign up for. FREE of Charge. If you want to call it “something for nothing”,by all means. Maybe if you would stop bantering about local problems and see that it could very well be a localized virus type issue. Im sorry you feel this way. But your town is not my problem.

  • ncgirl

    I read the above statements and wonder who the idiots are? Why so angry? Do you live in a fairy tale? There will always be people in one class or another but, to think that all people who are on welfare are dirty and misguided is in itself a reflection on the way you were raised. Have you ever tried to meet any of these so-called welfare recipients or do you just judge on what you have been taught? I for one know a lot of struggling people who are up right citizens who for one reason or another cannot raise above their status. Could that be from a one class of people suppressing the lower class to never allow them to succeed? Think about what you write and think about how ridiculous it sounds? Not all people who play sweeps are poor, dirty and degenerates. I run a sweeps (not in Bladen County) and the majority of my customers are 6 figures. They find it fun, relaxing and a way to get out of the house. In this establishment no alcohol, drugs or any means of disrupting behavior. The Sweeps can be ran with class. I know this to be a empirical fact cause I have one.

  • Eddie

    Unless you have passed the bar exam and have been appointed I suggest you take off your robe and stop judging others. Do some research on your subject as well – before you step up on your soap box and begin condemning those who are not as fortunate as you. I commend you if you clean highways as a volunteer but if that is your profession you should realize that litter bugs are excellent job security for you.

    For argument sake let us assume that you have correctly identified the demographic of cafe customers. Are you saying that low-income citizens should be banned from any sort of entertainment? Do you realize that over half of the population receives some sort of assistance from the government? If you were to stay consistent with your thought process I would expect similar posts from you regarding every business which offers entertainment.

    Maybe you can start a petition to brand or mark those who receive welfare so you can ridicule them when you see them at a movie theater, arcade, ticketed festival, the beach, putt putt, or any other place where they may spend money on anything but survival necessities. You may want to protest every convenient store selling lotto as well.

    Did you realize that these businesses create jobs for the local economy as well as tax dollars? You and the government should stay out of others business. Let the government tax these companies appropriately and let the market dictate the rest. The idea that there are state sponsored lottos and sweepstakes at the McDonald’s drive-thru yet internet cafes are made out to be criminal is confusing. My advise to those who feel it necessary to complain about these businesses is do not go. Join the free enterprise economy that is America and start your own company instead of living hand to mouth as an employee so miserable your only joy comes from hating on others.


  • I bet your town has no problem selling scratch off tickets or lottery tickets. Same people spend their money on these things. And that money is not even going where the govn said it would. Which is to our school system. I do not think anyone should beable to tell another person how to spend the money they work for. Next you will be telling women that they are not allowed to buy makeup or candy because their money should be used for their retirement. The sweepstakes is no different that you going into a store buying a drink and looking under the tap to see what you have won. I had one property owner tell me the reason the did not want to rent to sweepstakes cafes is because of the type of people that gathers there.

  • Guest 1232

    These machines can be directly hooked up to the NC DOR and they could watch the money flow in. This state is insane when it comes to gambling. I worked for ALE for many years and got tired of busting people for the machines. You have cops who play poker for hire wagers than these machines.What hipocrates they are. If someone wants to gamble they will always find a way.


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