In law enforcement circles, 2013 might be remembered as the year when police and deputies began enforcing in earnest the state’s ban on Internet sweepstakes gambling. As for 2014, the games are once again in flux.
About a year ago, the N.C. Supreme Court upheld the latest legislation taking aim at the gaming industry. The ruling was a milestone, considering how many times Internet sweepstakes operators had been able to tweak their software to follow the letter, if not the spirit, of laws aimed at putting them out of business.
The court challenges have hardly come to a halt. Internet sweepstakes operators continue to fight the state in court, and their chances of reopening increase with every software change and appeal.
North Carolina legislators should watch the proceedings closely. If the Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling can, indeed, keep Internet sweepstakes cafes closed once and for all, then the N.C. General Assembly is to be commended for succeeding where a lot of other state legislatures have failed.
But if the Internet sweepstakes industry finds enough loopholes and concessions to reopen cafes, then perhaps it’s time for North Carolina lawmakers to look for ways to tax and regulate the industry. Even the state’s patience – and bank account – has limits. If the state can’t beat the sweepstakes operators in court, then find a way to make some money off the games.
Internet sweepstakes often prey upon people who can least afford to gamble away their paychecks. But if it’s going to happen, put some of that money to good use in schools and other areas of need.