Source: WRAL

 The North Carolina Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation Monday to shutter hundreds of new businesses that bill supporters argue are offering just another form of illegal video poker where people buy phone or Internet time, then play games on computer screens to win cash and prizes.

By a vote of 47-1, the chamber continued its long history of opposing video gambling, this time through electronic and computer-based devices springing up at new “sweepstakes cafes” or “business centers.”

North Carolina Senate leaders, sheriffs and Christian groups say the sweepstakes games are an end-run around the state’s 2006 video poker ban. A series of pending court cases where the illegality of the machines has been questioned has led to the new law attempting to tighten the ban.

The number of such locations statewide has soared in recent months to about 600, according to Sen. Josh Stein, D-Wake, who is shepherding the bill through the Senate.

The state needs to “make crystal clear once and for all that running an Internet sweepstakes casino violates North Carolina laws,” Stein said. He added that they are “popping up in strip malls, targeting low-income communities across our state.”  More