Sweepstakes companies ask Supreme Court for temporary stay

lbonner@newsobserver.comDecember 19, 2012 

SWEEPSTAKES_05

Rodney Robinson of Concord said as this 2012 file photo was made that he plays a nickel at a time with a limit of $5 whenever he plays near Concord Mills. His favorite games are Wheel Deal, Pot 'O Gold and Snake Eyes. He plays about twice a week. John D. Simmons - jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

JOHN D. SIMMONS — jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

Two video sweepstakes software companies have asked the state’s highest court for a temporary stay of its decision upholding the state ban on such games while they appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Last week, the state Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, said the 2010 state law banning video sweepstakes did not infringe on First Amendment rights as sweepstakes companies argued. In its opinion, the court said the sweepstakes companies “have attempted to ‘skillfully disguise’ conduct with a facade of speech to gain First Amendment protection for their conduct.”

County sheriffs are preparing to begin enforcing the law on Jan. 3.

In their motion for the stay filed Tuesday night, the software companies said that without it, their First Amendment rights could be violated, businesses may close, and thousands may lose their jobs.

The state has tried several times since 2006 to ban video poker and video sweepstakes, but companies alter the games in attempts to stay ahead of the law. Chase Brooks, a sweepstakes operator in Alamance County and president of the Internet Based Sweepstakes Operators, said last week that the companies would modify their operations to stay open.

Bonner: 919-829-4821

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