The state’s highest court declined to take up appeals in two electronic gaming cases, letting the convictions stand in a decision that authorities say reinforces their ability to shut down illegal gambling operations.
N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper said Friday that the state Supreme Court denied petitions from the owner and manager of an Internet cafe in Tarboro. The N.C. Court of Appeals in November upheld their convictions in 2013 — the first to test a statewide sweepstakes ban.
Lawmakers first banned video poker and other electronic gambling in 2006, but operators have adapted their games and fought in court to stay open.
The Supreme Court decision, Cooper said, means the ban should be easier to enforce.
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Cooper said the high court’s order affirms investigators’ authority to “go after illegal gambling operations in their communities.”
Former N.C. Sen. Thom Goolsby announced last week that he is lobbying for a group representing the Internet sweepstakes industry.
Goolsby, who resigned from the legislature last year, is also a registered lobbyist for a group pushing the General Assembly to legalize, regulate and tax Internet sweepstakes games.
“North Carolina is a gaming state, with a state lottery and a Las Vegas-style casino in Cherokee,” Goolsby said in the news release. “Small business owners who choose to offer a sweepstakes promotion and are fully complying with North Carolina’s electronic sweepstakes laws deserve the right to operate without interference from state government. Our members are good citizens and will lobby the General Assembly for positive change.”
The Small Business Coalition, the group Goolsby will lobby for, was incorporated in February by Gardner Payne, a Charlotte attorney and lobbyist who once faced criminal gambling charges for sweepstakes machines he operated in Duplin County. The charges were later dismissed.
The news release about Goolsby’s new role said that Rep. Harry Warren, a Salisbury Republican, plans to file legislation this session to legalize sweepstakes.
“Internet cafes using a sweepstakes promotion sustain thousands of good jobs and have a positive economic impact on our communities,” Warren said in the statement. “Our bill will raise revenue for the state’s critical needs and help strengthen these small businesses.”