The Best Carolina Can Do

With no proper casino to speak of in the Carolinas, the only legal options for gambling enthusiasts are slot machine parlors (including the one run by Harrah’s in Cherokee).  Earlier this year, the North Carolina Court of Appeals effectively legalized the white trash version of slot machines known as “Sweepstakes” machines.  Old women of the Carolinas now have hundreds of places they can go to get their gambling fix.
According to “The Meck Deck” blog, sweepstakes parlors are legal, at least for now, subject to what the N.C. Supreme Court has to say about the matter.  The state argued that the NC law prohibiting sweepstakes parlors regulated conduct, not speech.  The appeals court agreed that this is what the law tried to do, but that the “broad manner in which the statute attempt[ed] to regulate this conduct is problematic.”
The court wrote that the law allowed anyone to play the companies’ video games as long as the machines weren’t used to promote or conduct a sweepstakes.  The companies also could conduct their sweepstakes legally as long as they didn’t notify winners on an “entertaining display” on a video screen.  Thus, the court noted, what the law criminalized was a specific method of disseminating sweepstakes results.
The U.S. Supreme Court has recently ruled both that “the creation and dissemination of information are speech within the meaning of the First Amendment” and that video games are entitled to First Amendment protections.“  In light of these holdings, banning the dissemination of sweepstakes results through entertaining displays cannot be characterized as merely a regulation of conduct,” wrote the court.“  Instead, that portion of N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-306.4 which forbids ‘the reveal of a prize’ by means of an entertaining display directly regulates protected speech under the First Amendment.”
It’s a small step on a global scale when you consider all of the advances that are taking place in gambling around the world, but it’s a giant leap for North Carolina.

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