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Raleigh seeks to limit density of sweepstakes parlors

February 15, 2013 

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Former Wake County Board of Education member Debra Goldman

TAKAAKI IWABU — tiwabu@newsobserver.com Buy Photo

The Raleigh City Council is looking to further regulate Internet sweepstakes parlors after a recent court ruling failed to shut the operations down.

The council’s Law and Public Safety Committee this week voiced support for placing distance restrictions on the parlors to limit the number that could operate within a given area.

The debate surrounding sweepstakes parlors in Raleigh went quiet after the N.C. Supreme Court’s ruling in December upholding the legislature’s ban on electronic sweepstakes games as a form of gambling. But most parlors remained after the ruling went into effect Jan. 3.

“The sweepstakes operators have changed the way they operate the terminals,” city attorney Tom McCormick said. “It has something to do with immediately being able to go on the terminal and find out if you’re a winner” rather than going through graphics that simulate slot machines and other games before showing the outcome.

No one has deemed the new approach illegal yet. Without any noticeable change, council members want to restrict how close new parlors can locate to existing ones.

“I continue to be concerned by these operations,” Councilman Randy Stagner said.

Raleigh already charges thousands of dollars in annual fees to sweepstakes operators. Distance rules might slow the growth of the parlors, which number 31 in Raleigh at last count.

Politicking in Wilkes

It did not take former Wake County school board member Debra Goldman long to make a public splash in her new home in Wilkes County.

Goldman, who resigned Feb. 1 to lead a nonprofit group focused on stroke awareness and prevention, attended her first meeting of the Ronda Town Council this week. The Wilkes Journal-Patriot reported that Goldman commended Mayor Victor Varela for allowing the public to be so involved in the meeting, but she also criticized him for interrupting residents when they were speaking.

According to the newspaper, Goldman’s boss, Kevin Reece, is organizing a petition to recall Varela and is not happy people can’t remove elected officials.

Goldman’s seat

Speaking of Goldman, Wake County school officials say that as of Friday afternoon they hadn’t received any applications to fill her school board seat.

Goldman was the board member for District 9, which covers much of Cary. Feb. 22 is the deadline for seeking to complete Goldman’s term, which ends in November.

The school board will schedule interviews with applicants and will probably vote on a successor in March.

Candidates must live in District 9. People can see what district they live in by plugging in their address at http://tinyurl.com/cqzdxv6.

The applications must include a letter of interest no longer than five pages, a résumé and three letters of recommendation.

Applications can be mailed to District 9 Board of Education Vacancy, Wake County Board of Education, Crossroads 1, 5625 Dillard Drive, Cary, NC 27518.

Progressive forum

The People’s Alliance, one of Durham’s most influential political-action organizations, is hosting the “Progressive Forum: Economic Inequality and the Economy” later this month.

The public event deals with “issues related to poverty and jobs, with a focus on North Carolina.” Speakers include Gene Nichol of the UNC Law School; Rob Schofield of N.C. Policy Watch; Sandy Darity of Duke University; and Jeff Ward of Duke Law School.

The forum begins at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 28, and will be held at Motorco, 723 Rigsbee Ave. Admission is free to the general public.

Information: durhampa.org, on.fb.me/XbCv56, or 919-682-7777.

Political Trails

• Chris Fitzsimon of N.C. Policy Watch will speak at the meeting of Wake County Senior Democrats on Wednesday at the Crabtree Marriott Hotel on Glenwood Avenue. A Dutch lunch will be at 11 a.m. with the program following. The meeting is open to the public.

• Dr. Ellen Blair of Partners against Trafficking Humans in North Carolina (PATH-NC) will speak about trafficking in the state at the Timely Topics brown bag lunch of the League of Women Voters of Wake County on Friday. The meeting begins at noon at Finlator Hall at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, 1801 Hillsborough St. in Raleigh. For more information, go to www.lwvwake.org or call 919-783-5995.

Compiled by Colin Campbell, T. Keung Hui and Jim Wise.

Got a tip, item or coming event? Fax Triangle Politics at 919-829-4529, or send e-mail to metroeds@newsobserver.com. Send items by noon Thursday.

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