After years of banning raffle machines in North Carolina, lawmakers seek to regulate and tax video games ::

Bars and convenience stores could have video lottery terminals under a bill that began moving in the legislature on Tuesday.

House Bill 954 takes a stand if you can’t replace them over North Carolina’s long-standing efforts to shut down video game terminals known as state raffle machines. This measure would allow machines operated by the state lottery, require permits on machines, and allow law enforcement to seize machines without them.

Supporters said the bill would increase state tax revenues, and they added $ 2 million per year to the bill Tuesday for the state’s historically black colleges and universities and created a program of scholarships for community colleges – incentives for lawmakers who might otherwise oppose the bill.

This is a second major legislative effort this year in the area of ​​gambling. A bill to legalize sports betting was approved by the state Senate earlier this month and is awaiting a decision in the House.

Sponsor Representative Harry Warren, R-Rowan, told lawmakers the video lottery bill is expected to reduce raffle machines in the state by 65% ​​to 70%. The North Carolina Sheriffs Association, which opposes the bill, quickly backed down.

“This bill does not eliminate the machines that are already there,” said Eddie Caldwell, the association’s lobbyist in Raleigh. “(It just creates) a lot of additional machines.”

Asked after the meeting for more information, Warren said he does not do interviews and referred the questions to co-sponsoring rep Tim Moffitt, R-Henderson, who said he would work to get an answer. Rep. Jason Saine, R-Lincoln, who brought forward the motion to get this bill through the House Commerce Committee, said legalization should dry up underground demand.

The bill establishes a tiered system of machine manufacturers, owners and traders, as well as a distribution of income:

  • At least 32 percent to the state
  • No more than 8% to the North Carolina Education Lottery for monitoring and enforcement
  • 35 percent to “operators” who own or lease machines
  • 25 percent to traders who have the machines in their businesses

Licensees would pay the following annual fees:

  • Manufacturers – $ 50,000
  • Operators – $ 24,000 per year, plus $ 150 per machine
  • Retailers – $ 1,000 per location, plus $ 150 per terminal

All machines should be connected to a central monitoring system, and they could not be within 300 meters of a school or church. Only retailers with a state liquor control license to sell alcohol, take out or in person, could house machines. Moffitt said it should help law enforcement, as state liquor law enforcement officials are already in and out of those places.

Players would have to be at least 21 years old under the bill, and the machines would give winners vouchers that they could redeem for cash or more games. The odds should be displayed and the state lottery officials would decide how much people could bet at a time.

In addition to the Sheriffs Association, the North Carolina Family Policy Council opposed the bill in committee on Tuesday, with Executive Director John Rustin saying the measure “would do incredible harm” to individuals, marriages and families. by adding to a phenomenon of raffle that the State has organized. tried to get rid of it for a decade.

“There is nothing in this bill that would limit, restrict or eliminate video lotteries,” Rustin said.

Caldwell said the combination of gambling and alcohol would be a problem.

“These are not top-flight people who can afford to go to Vegas,” he said. “These are people who bet their rent money and their groceries.”

Moffitt said it’s already clear lawmakers can’t stop gambling in North Carolina, and the choice is to regulate it. At least it allows the state to “use the revenue constructively,” he said.

The bill authorized the committee on what appeared to be an imbalanced, bipartisan vote of votes. He heads alongside the House finance committee.

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