Are Video Poker Machines Legal in North Carolina?


are video poker machines legal in nc

Since 2000, North Carolina legislators have fought against gambling with various laws and court cases, such as video poker, electronic sweepstakes and similar games being legal. Although their goal was to limit and eventually ban them altogether, gambling remains unregulated with law enforcement being focused more on more serious offenses.

Video poker was first invented by Si Redd, founder of International Gaming Technology, and first popularized in the early 1970s as “poker slots.” Similar to slot reels, video poker uses a random-number generator to randomly shuffle and distribute five initial cards as well as five replacements each hand; any winning combinations are paid out according to an onscreen pay table.

As with other forms of gambling, video poker carries considerable risks. Like other forms of gambling, video poker may lead to addiction, debt and bankruptcy as well as increased domestic violence, drug use, mental illness and child abuse issues as well as suicide attempts. Problem and pathological gambling is a significant public health problem in the U.S.; an estimated 16 million Americans currently suffer from it and one quarter have serious gambling problems (the National Council on Problem Gambling estimates 16 million American suffer from serious gambling disorders).

BST and Victory Vending, two major gaming companies based out of North Carolina, have invested millions of dollars to develop platforms that abide by North Carolina gambling laws. Their platform utilizes what’s known as “predominant factor test”, an argument which has proven successful at deflecting state bans on their machines.

Lawmakers in the General Assembly are currently deliberating a bill that would allow video poker-type machines to be placed in establishments licensed to sell alcohol, with a share of net machine revenue going directly back into state coffers. While some Republicans and conservative Christian groups strongly oppose such machines being installed therein, others see them as expanding state revenues that help fund education and youth sports programs.

Representative Harry Warren from Rowan County, who estimates between 50,000 to 100,000 illegal machines are operating across North Carolina – mostly sweepstakes parlors – is pushing for restrictions and regulation so as to eliminate seedy gambling entertainment and provide safe gaming entertainment with limited supply in safer conditions. According to this legislation, gambling devices would need to be clearly labeled and obtain state permission; anyone operating without such approvals risks either fines or arrest.

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