Christian Action League
December 21, 2012
RALEIGH – Friday of last week (December 15), the North Carolina Supreme Court upheld the law to ban video sweepstakes. The unanimous opinion by the High Court overturned two lower court rulings in cases brought by Hest Technologies and Sandhill Amusements.
Hest and Sandhill attorneys, arguing before the court in October, had insisted that the law targeted the entertaining display of the video games and that entertainment in general and video games in particular are protected speech. But Supreme Court Justice Robin Hudson made it clear in the 23-page ruling that operating or placing into operation an electronic machine is “clearly conduct, not speech.”
“Just as the sweepstakes operates irrespective of the video game outcome, the law operates irrespective of the content of the video game; the statue is concerned only with the attachment of an announcement of a sweepstakes result to the game, a juxtaposition that creates the functional equivalent of a gambling environment and thereby encourages the ills the General Assembly sought to remedy,” Hudson wrote.
The ruling precipitated a request by sweepstakes attorneys that there be a temporary delay of any enforcement of the ban on sweepstake parlors. On Wednesday of this week, however, the Supreme Court denied their request.
“I thought that it was stupendous news to hear our state’s highest court had upheld the ban we worked so hard with lawmakers to pass in 2009. But what a Christmas present to learn the industry has also been denied a temporary hold on the ban! These video sweepstakes operators have done their dirty work long enough, proliferating all over this state since the lower court rulings had overturned the ban. God willing, this is it –‘Game Over’ for them.”
Various media outlets are reporting the North Carolina Sheriff’s Association has instructed the state’s 100 Sheriff’s that the ban’s enforcement may start as early as Thursday, January 3rd.
The Raleigh News and Observer reports that video sweepstakes companies, however, do not intend to give up their fight: “ ‘Our client plans to seek a stay of the North Carolina Supreme Court’s recent ruling from the United States Supreme Court and to petition for a writ of certiorari,’ lawyer Adam Charnes said in a statement. ‘The positive economic impact and thousands of jobs provided by the industry deserve nothing less than for us to explore all legal avenues to protect them and we will continue to do so moving forward.’”
“This evil and predatory industry, quite unlike any other, is most adept for morphing into something that no longer fits the definition of the ban or takes advantage of a loophole in the law” said Rev. Creech. “We can never drop our guard. If they can’t prevail in the courts, we can expect them to try to get lawmakers to bring sweepstakes back with regulation and taxing. But I don’t think we have ever been in a better position for ultimately prevailing over this matter than we are now,” he added.
Read related story: N.C. Supreme Court Upholds Ban on Video Sweepstakes Gambling as Constitutional