Under the Dome

Dome: Internet sweepstakes industry plays a new hand

cjarvis@newsobserver.comJanuary 30, 2013 

The Internet sweepstakes industry won’t fold ’em.

The companies that provide the software for the machines in Internet sweepstakes cafes say a bill will be introduced that would freeze the 2010 law that sought to outlaw that kind of gambling.

The legislation would delay that law for three years so that sweepstakes gambling could be better defined and regulated, according to MMI Public Relations.

Potential bill sponsors are being sought now, the public relations firm says, but legislation is likely to be introduced in the House as soon as this week or next.

The pitch the companies will make is that the industry employs about 16,500 North Carolina residents, tax revenue from the games goes toward funding municipal employees, and there are about 1,000 Internet sweeps cafes around the state, whose owners are willing to work with new regulations and taxes if they can remain in business.

But the General Assembly has been trying to get rid of the games for years. The industry has managed to stay one step ahead of the law by restructuring the games. A recent state Supreme Court ruling upheld the 2010 ban, but the industry says that’s not the end.

This appears to be the next hand.

Stam backs down on lottery bill

Patrick Gannon of the Insider reports that Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam, R-Wake, has taken a provision out of draft legislation that would have made it illegal to knowingly sell N.C. Education Lottery tickets to people on welfare and other forms of public assistance.

Gannon writes: “I discovered that a lot of people want people on welfare to gamble as much as possible,” Stam said Tuesday. He said the proposal brought much more criticism than he would have expected – from “liberals concerned about discriminating against poor people” to “conservatives who think it is big government telling people what to do.” Stam said legislation would be proposed this session to change the way the lottery is permitted to advertise and promote itself.

Cobey gets nod for state board

Former congressman and former GOP state chairman William Cobey is one of Gov. Pat McCrory’s nominees to the State Board of Education.

The legislature plans to move quickly to approve the nominees before the State Board of Education meeting next week, at the governor’s request. A joint session may come Monday or Tuesday, House Speaker Thom Tillis said.

McCrory nominated Cobey to an at-large seat.

Rebecca Taylor was nominated to fill the 1st district seat, replacing Jean Woolard. Taylor has worked in education for more than 35 years. She is a former special education teacher and now owns and operates Sylvan Learning Centers in eastern North Carolina.

Gregory Alcorn was nominated to fill the 7th district seat.

All three nominees’ terms expire March 31, 2019. Terms have expired for three current board members, including Chairman Bill Harrison.

Hall named freshman leader

Newly elected state Rep. Duane Hall on Wednesday was named leader of the freshman Democratic caucus in the House. Hall represents Cary and western parts of Raleigh.

He received a standing ovation from members of both parties in the House chamber.

Hall released a statement afterward: “The position of freshman leader is not ideological. My job will be more organizational, and helping to assure that all 13 newly elected Democrats are prepared to contribute.”

Staff writers Craig Jarvis and Lynn Bonner

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