Raleigh, NC -- Governor Bev Perdue officially signed a law on Tuesday banning Internet sweepstakes businesses across the state.
The bill cleared the NC House earlier this month, and a press secretary said she was expected to sign the bill into law. Chrissy Pearson, Communications Director for the Governor's Office, says Perdue signed law HB 80 Tuesday afternoon. There was no public ceremony for the signing.
Sweepstakes centers have proliferated since at least two trial judges blocked state agents and police from seizing the machines. The judges ruled that the video poker ban and an ensuing 2008 law designed to close a loophole don't necessarily apply to the games. Those cases are pending.
The industry has said getting rid of the games could do away with up to 10,000 jobs during the ongoing economic slump. Supporters of the games say they're not gambling, but a form of entertainment and marketing for Internet or phone time or office services. Machine opponents say the games, found at more than 900 places statewide, are designed to get around the 2006 ban.
WFMY News 2 spoke with a Billy Corn, who just bought an Internet sweepstakes business in June. He says he thinks the economic impact of the ban will reach beyond the unemployed.
"It's not only going to affect their jobs," he explains,"It's going to affect the people who own this strip center; they are not going to be getting rent. These people will probably be going on unemployment. It's damaging all the way around."
Prior to Perdue's signing, Corn said he thought there would be several fights to get the bill overturned.
The law goes into effect December 1.
WFMY News 2/AP