Bill would allow for casino gambling in towns and cities across the state
By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
May 3, 2013
RALEIGH — It may sound like simply fun and games (with some alcohol thrown in), all to benefit the state’s needy non-profits. But the reality of House Bill 809, “Game Nights/Nonprofit Fundraisers,” now apparently gaining momentum at the General Assembly, is that it’s one more welcome mat being laid out for the gambling industry.
“Make no mistake. This bill is not innocuous or less dangerous because it comes as an angel of light with the promise of helping charities. Instead it is a fallen angel with all the same minions of commercial gambling,” the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, told the House Commerce Committee Wednesday minutes before they approved the bill on a 27-18 vote. “This bill is in essence a de-facto form of legalized casinos across our state.”
“It has the potential for creating permanent stations for casino style gambling, making gambling more accessible and increasing the odds for people to become problem or pathological gamblers,” he added.
The latest push for “Monte Carlo” or “Casino” nights, which have appeared before lawmakers in some form or fashion since at least as far back as 2001, would allow any nonprofit organization to partner with an ABC permit holder to host gambling events — complete with roulette, blackjack, poker, craps, keno and wheel of fortune games — as long as they used non-cash prizes and made sure not to spend more than half the profits headed to the charity. Individual nonprofits could hold four such five-hour events per year, and facilities could host up to two gaming nights per month.
Explaining that some casino night events are already being held in North Carolina with enforcement of the state’s anti-gambling laws varying from county to county, Rep. Jamie Boles (R-Moore) told the committee that the bill included a number of safeguards to keep it from being abused.
“It is not gambling per se as much as a for-fun night, and we’re all here for the children. This is so the PTA can have fundraisers and our nonprofits,” Rep. Boles said. He said requiring game night permits to be purchased through the Alcohol Law Enforcement agency and tying violations to revocation of ABC permits would prevent the privilege from being misused.
But many on the committee expressed concerns.
“I guess drinking and gambling for the benefit of the PTA may be OK,” ventured Rep. Jim Fulghum (R-Wake), adding “I’m not sure about the charitable nature of any of this.”
He said although it sounded “like a lot of fun,” he was disturbed by the bill’s lack of public benefit.
Rep. Robert Brawley (R-Iredell) said he opposed the bill because it does “open up gambling — wide open — in North Carolina.” And Rep. Mike Stone (R-Harnett) said it could open up a “can of bad worms for us all.”
The North Carolina Family Policy Council’s Bill Brooks told the committee that research shows that many who take part in so-called non-profit gambling events are regulars, in other words, compulsive gamblers. He said what might start out as well-intentioned fundraisers would, like gambling always does, “morph into something bigger and worse.”
“Why should we legalize gambling for fun, knowing it is going to lead to more gambling and sending a signal to our citizens that casino gambling is an accepted enterprise?” he challenged.
Dr. Creech told the committee that because gambling is fundamentally flawed, it never fulfills its promises.
“Be assured that any short-term gains from charitable casino gambling will be significantly outweighed by the damage in the long-term,” he warned.
House Bill 809 is headed to the House Judiciary B Committee, and if it passes there, to Finance.
“We know firsthand that non-profits need money, but this isn’t the way to raise funds. Gambling in any form is predicated on the losses and pain of others,” he said. “Further, the principle of gambling undermines our commitment to hard work and diligence.”
Check below to see how your lawmaker voted on the bill.
Lawmakers who voted YES in the Commerce Committee
W. Brawley (R) D. Floyd (D) M. Speciale (R)
R. Moore (D) K. Goodman (D) J. Szoka (R)
K. Alexander (D) C. Graham (D) P. Tine (D)
M. Avila (R) G. Graham (D) J. Tolson (R)
J. Bell (R) M. Hagar (R) H. Warren (R)
J. Boles (R) D. Hall (D)
C. Cunningham (D) S. Hamilton (D)
J. Dockham C. Jeter (R)
B. Earle (D) D. Lewis (R)
J. Farmer-Butterfield (D) M. Lucas (D)
S. Fisher (D) C. Malone (R)
Lawmakers who voted NO in the Commerce Committee
D. Conrad (R) D. Riddell (R)
C. Millis (R) P. Shepard (R)
M. Stone (R) E. Starnes (R)
R. Brawley (R) E. Terry (D)
M. Brody (R) G. Pierce (D)
D. Bumgardner (R)
R. Catlin (R)
N. Dollar (R)
J. Fulghum (R)
Y. Holley (D)
S. Martin (R)
M. Presnell (R)
Take Christian Action:
If your lawmaker is on the list and was recorded as voting “YES” in the Commerce Committee, you may want to contact him/her and express your disappointment. Just click here and find his/her name on the House Members list, then click on their name and their contact information will be displayed.
If your lawmaker is on the list and was recorded as voting “NO” in the Commerce Committee, you may want to contact him/her and express your appreciation. Just click here and find his/her name on the House Members list, then click on their name and their contact information will be displayed.
Finally, be watching for updates from the Christian Action League on this dangerous legislation. Alert your friends and family about it as well.