RALEIGH, North Carolina – As reported by the Star News: "Gov. Mike Easley signed a bill Tuesday that bans all video poker machines in the state by July 2007.
"Law enforcement officials
hope the legislation will deal a fatal hand to video poker gaming, while owners of registered machines say they were unfairly targeted.
"New Hanover County Sheriff Sid Causey was involved in the high-stakes struggle to overcome the gaming industry lobby in Raleigh and politicians like House Speaker Jim Black, who accepted substantial donations from people connected with the video poker industry.
"'I think 95 percent of them are operating illegally. After seven years we're close to getting them cleaned out,' Causey said. 'It's big business and it's big money.'
"A spokesman for the N.C. Amusement Machine Association, which has about 130 members across the state, said Wednesday that in an effort to remove lawbreakers, county sheriffs and politicians went after legitimate businesses.
"…Bills to ban video poker had consistent support in the state Senate, but were blocked in the House until this year's session. Lawmakers voted 114-1 last week in favor of the measure.
"…Current state law only allows for prizes of merchandise valued up to $10. Some machines are modified so cash payouts can be made. In 2005, nearly 550 video poker machines were legally registered in Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover and Pender counties. As many as 10,000 machines are registered statewide. Another 10,000 illegal video poker machines may be raking in money in North Carolina, by some estimates.
"Thousands of video poker machines were imported from South Carolina after the game was banned there, authorities said…"
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