A formal inquiry has been made by the North Carolina Education lottery to operate casino-like video machines, and the request could be granted if the Republican-dominated legislature and Governor Bev Purdue (D) finally agree to regulate rather the machines instead of outlawing them.
Alice Garland, the lottery’s new executive director, stated that she solicited bids from companies that can run a centrally operated video lottery terminal system in which several games would operate simultaneously.
Garland has not actually made a decision regarding whether to pursue state approval for video lotteries or not. The inquiry is considered a preparatory step for a possible future integration of lottery video gambling contracts into the state’s existing lottery system.
Garland states that her request was for the purpose of information only, and to avoid the perception of favoritism in informal discussions between state lottery officials and vendors. She added: “Should the legislature decide to do something, they’re going to want it done yesterday,” and elaborated that the request for information “gives us a legitimate way for us to get educated.”
Governor Perdue has already stated that she will consider legislation that regulates the machines – currently the subject of a state ban – if the Republican-led legislature passes it. Since last year, the lottery has provided data to lawmakers suggesting that $576 million could be generated annually for North Carolina if video poker machines are legalized (and regulated).
Traditional video poker machines were banned in 2007. Legislators have since been trying to ban sweepstakes machines, from which players buy internet or phone credit that gives them opportunities to win cash and prizes with mouse clicks on a screen. A superior court judge ruled in November, however, that the ban violates free speech rights, and has left open the door for some sweepstakes machines to operate freely.