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RALEIGH, NC (AP) — North Carolina’s video sweepstakes halls could be closed soon after the state’s highest court refused a request from industry officials to delay those closings while they appeal to the US Supreme Court.

The state Supreme Court on Wednesday denied the request from the sweepstakes game industry to delay last week’s decision that sweepstakes halls are gambling operations. The refusal could shut down hundreds of businesses across North Carolina.

Industry officials say they don’t expect the order to be enforced for 20 days, when it becomes final. In the meantime, its attorneys say they’ll continue their fight through the courts with further appeals.

The industry had sought a few weeks to see if the US Supreme Court would consider its claim of free-speech protections.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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