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FIRST ON 3: Court of Appeals rules NC can't ban internet sweepstakes games

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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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