Under the Dome

Former NC Sen. Thom Goolsby to lobby for sweepstakes industry

Former N.C. Sen. Thom Goolsby – a newly appointed member of the UNC Board of Governors – is lobbying for a group representing the internet sweepstakes industry.

Goolsby, who resigned from the legislature last year, announced Thursday that he’ll serve as spokesman for the newly formed N.C. Small Business Coalition. Goolsby is also a registered lobbyist for the group, which is 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 a 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.”

According to N.C. Secretary of State filings, the Small Business Coalition 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 release. “Our bill will raise revenue for the state’s critical needs and help strengthen these small businesses.”

The legislature banned sweepstakes in North Carolina five years ago, but business owners challenged the law in court. And while the N.C. Supreme Court upheld the ban, many of the businesses remain in operation using modified software.