Sweepstakes Courtroom Gamble
Special Report - October 24, 2012
The N.C. Supreme Court has heard oral arguments in two lawsuits that seek to invalidate the state’s prohibition on video gambling, specifically through the use of electronic sweepstakes. On October 17, the Court began its consideration of the two lawsuits, Hest Technologies v. State of North Carolina, and Sandhill Amusements v State of North Carolina. In a split decision earlier this year, the N.C. Court of Appeals invalidated the 2010 law that bans video sweepstakes machines, saying it regulated speech and was unconstitutionally overbroad. The dissenting Court of Appeals opinion had argued that the statute regulates conduct, rather than speech. See our previous story.
The 2010 law was passed to clarify and strengthen a 2007 law that explicitly outlawed video poker in North Carolina. The legislation was prompted by a proliferation of sweepstakes cafes and parlors across North Carolina that have essentially set up video poker casinos that require players to purchase phone or Internet time in order to gain access to the games of chance.
Video gambling proponents, developers, and owners argue that the video screens constitute speech by the parlor owners and are therefore protected from being outlawed under the First Amendment. That argument harkens back, in part, to a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that video game content is entitled to the same free speech protections as books or films.
However, the State Solicitor General distinguished the North Carolina law by pointing out that it does not prohibit video game sales or the legal use of sweepstakes. The statute only prohibits the combination of video games with sweepstakes. The title of the bill is: “AN ACT TO BAN THE USE OF ELECTRONIC MACHINES AND DEVICES FOR SWEEPSTAKES PURPOSES.” The state attorney argued that it is an appropriate use of the government’s police power to regulate conduct that is harmful to citizens. In this case, he argued that the State is justified in its regulation and prohibition of video gambling through sweepstakes games because of the individual and social harm that is wrought by the conduct of widespread gambling. He went on to argue that even if this activity is considered as speech, that there is no unrestricted right to play video gamesthat time, place and manner can be evaluated, and the manner and mode of speech can be constitutionally regulated.
NC Appeals Court Strikes Sweepstakes Ban - March 8, 2012
Video Poker Bill Dies In Committee - June 28, 2012
Bill Would Legalize Video Poker - June 25, 2012
Governor Perdue Wants More Gambling - June 8, 2012
N.C. Appeals Court Strikes Sweepstakes Ban - March 8, 2012
AG Issues Sweepstakes Ban Advisory - December 6, 2011
Like Deja vu All Over Again: North Carolina’s “Groundhog Day” Experience with Video Sweepstakes - FNC - Spring 2011
Competing Gambling Bills Filed - March 9, 2011
Bill Filed To Broaden Sweepstakes Ban - January 28, 2011
Court Won't Stay Gambling Ruling - January 1, 2011
Attorney General's Advisory Letter - December 2, 2010
Gambling Ban Moves Ahead - November 30, 2010
Sweepstakes Lawsuits Dropped - October 26, 2010
Injunction On Internet Gambling Fees - October 18, 2010
Gambling Operators Sue Cities - August 13, 2010
Perdue Signs Gambling Ban Bill - July 22, 2010
House Passes Video Gambling Ban - July 8, 2010
It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over: Video Gambling Returns to North Carolina - FNC- April 2010
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