RALEIGH N.C. (WNCN) – Republican representative Harry Warren said video gambling and sweepstakes parlors have been operating unregulated and unsanctioned for more than one decade.
“The real reason that these things flourish is that people play them. If there were no real money then they would not be in business,” Warren said.
He estimates there could be anywhere between 60,000 to 100,000 illegal gaming machines across North Carolina.
Warren wants to cut that down by half or more through HB 512, which would regulate video gambling machines through the North Carolina Lottery Commission. The goal, he said, is to help law enforcement distinguish which operations are legal, or not.
“If it doesn’t have a state-approved sticker on it, it’s illegal. It clarifies the definition,” Warren said.
The bill requires businesses to have an active ABC license and merchants can’t solely be in business to run the gaming terminals.
The measure would take 40 percent of the gaming machine revenues, a majority of that state money would go toward a fund to give millions to Historically Black Colleges, law enforcement, as well as forgivable loan programs for community college students.
Other lawmakers think they could get more from the industry.
“Raise that fee up to 50 percent, we could flow some of that money into municipalities who are going to be the ones shouldering the burden of the social cost of gambling,” Democrat Rep. Deb Butler said.
John Rustin, the President of the NC Family Policy Council, said it opens the door for more gambling additions.
“But that does nothing to stop illegal gambling machines that will continue to operate aside from this new scheme,” Rustin said.