Under the Dome

Internet sweeps industry hopes to play another hand

The internet sweepstakes industry won’t fold 'em.

The companies that provide the software for the machines in Internet sweepstakes cafes say a bill will be introduced that would freeze the 2010 law that sought to outlaw that kind of gambling.

The legislation would delay that law for three years so that sweepstakes gambling could be better defined and regulated, according to MMI Public Relations.

Potential bill sponsors are being sought now, the public relations firm says, but legislation is likely to be introduced in the House as soon as this week or next.

The pitch the companies will make is that the industry employs about 16,500 North Carolina residents, tax revenue from the games goes toward funding municipal employees, and that there are about 1,000 Internet sweeps cafes around the state, whose owners are willing to work with new regulations and taxes if they can remain in business.

But the General Assembly has been trying to get rid of the games for years. The industry has managed to stay one step ahead of the law by restructuring the games. A recent state Supreme Court ruling upheld the 2010 ban, but the industry says that’s not the end.

This appears to be the next hand.

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