Contact members of the NC House immediately!
By M.H. Cavanaugh
Christian Action League
June 19, 2015
RALEIGH – The rumor mill at the North Carolina General Assembly is saying certain House members are serious about reviving sweepstakes gambling. Republicans intend to caucus on the issue Tuesday of next week. Meanwhile, the Senate has included a provision in its proposed budget that would authorize a 50% increase in lottery advertising and introduce the sale of E-Instant lottery tickets online.
North Carolina banned sweepstakes gambling in 2007 and tweaked the ban in 2010. Only last month, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina struck an agreement with 5 sweepstakes companies not to prosecute them for their illegal activities, if they would no longer provide software to sweepstakes establishments in the state, and, if they ceased all activities by July 1, 2015. Last week, the State Supreme Court upheld the enforcement of the state’s ban on the sweepstakes industry, essentially killing it.
Two measures were filed to legalize sweepstakes gaming this year. HB 922 – Video Sweepstakes Regulation and Taxing basically seeks to make sweepstakes electronic gaming lawful by licensing, taxing and regulating it. HB 938 – Comprehensive Gaming Reform takes a broader approach and proposes a nine member gaming commission be established to oversee the state lottery, charitable and for-profit bingo, as well as legalize, license and tax sweepstakes.
No action has been taken on either bill. Both currently reside in the House Finance Committee. Because they involve revenue, the two measures remain eligible to be considered.
Sweepstakes gaming at internet cafes and sweepstakes parlors in hundreds of locations across North Carolina simply signifies a revamped version of video poker – a form of gaming once called “the crack-cocaine of gambling.”
John Rustin, president of the North Carolina Family Policy said, “We have been battling the gaming industry for years to rid our state of this predatory form of gambling, and recent actions by our judiciary have affirmed that electronic sweepstakes gambling is patently illegal. The last thing the General Assembly should do is to legitimize and legalize an illegitimate industry that preys on our citizens and victimizes their children and families in North Carolina.”
Thursday, the NC Senate passed its version of the state’s budget, which included a provision that expands lottery advertising from 1% of annual lottery revenues to 1.5 percent. That represents a 50% increase of 9 million additional dollars spent on lottery ads. Plus, the provision also directs the Lottery Commission to introduce “E-Instant Games.” The Senate budget proposal projects a gain of $15.5 million in revenue from the purchase of these online lottery tickets.
North Carolina statute 18C-130 already allows the Lottery Commission to introduce online games, stating: “Games may include instant lotteries, online games, games played on computer terminals or other devices, and other games traditional to a lottery or that have been conducted by any other state government-operated lottery.”
However, Dr. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League says citizen Christians should still be concerned and voice their opposition.
“This situation involves more than most see,” said Dr. Creech. “The increase in lottery ads is bad enough. What we are witnessing is the expansion of the failed experiment of government sponsored gambling in North Carolina. It has failed because the enterprise is blatantly dishonest and hasn’t fulfilled its many promises. It has failed because it has injured some of our state’s citizens and made losers out of them, which is certainly not the government’s role. It has failed by creating unfairness for taxpayers, forcing the many who do not gamble to help support those who get hooked on gaming. It has failed to protect the personal freedom of our citizens because the entire enterprise doesn’t make a profit without taking away people’s freedom and creating addicts. To expand upon this failed experiment and make revenue projections in the state’s budget from such an expansion is just fueling the flame of utter foolishness.”
Dr. Creech also warned E-Instant Games can be very problematic and not what most North Carolinians envisioned when the lottery was originally proposed. “These online games,” said Dr. Creech, “will put the lottery on every smart phone, in every bedroom, and every office in the state. It opens the door to online gambling, people paying with credit and debit cards – something that presents another issue for accumulating unmanageable debt, as well as providing a new venue for underage gambling.”
TAKE CHRISTIAN ACTION:
It is imperative that before Tuesday, June 23rd, you contact your Representative in the North Carolina House and urge him/her to reject any expansion of gambling in North Carolina. Please don’t procrastinate. Much is at stake.
Share this alert with your church, your Sunday School class, your Christian friends at work, your family or any other concerned citizen Christians you may know that would be concerned about the spread of gambling in the Tar Heel state.
If you do not know who represents you in the N.C. House, go to WRAL’s Find Your Lawmakers and type in your address. Remember: You are looking for your Representative in the N.C. House.