The N.C. General Assembly seems intent on making the 2018 short session live up to its name. Held every other year, the session is used primarily to make adjustments to the two-year budget that is adopted in the longer, odd-year session, and to complete leftover business.
With a veto-proof majority in both the House and Senate, the Republican leadership can pretty much do as it pleases. We hope our region’s House delegation — especially the Republican members — will encourage Speaker Tim Moore to move for consideration House Bill 577, which toughens laws on video sweepstakes parlors.
These gambling joints have long been a scourge on North Carolina communities. As new laws were passed to try to stop the gambling operations, the fight against them proved to be more like a game of Whac-A-Mole, with operators popping up and finding loopholes to survive the heavy rubber mallet of the law.
House Bill 577 creates a Class G felony for video sweepstakes parlors that, as the Winston-Salem Journal reported, “possess more than four electronic machines or devices within 100 feet of any other electronic sweepstakes devices — a situation some describe as running ‘big rooms.’ ”
“Big rooms” are especially troublesome for law enforcement, and harm the general well-being and safety of an area. They often become breeding grounds for crime, violence and mischief in general.
The good news is that HB 577 is a leftover from last year’s session, when it was passed by the Senate, but then stalled in the House. All that’s needed is for Speaker Moore to get the bill back to the floor of the House, where it would likely pass and be sent on to Gov. Roy Cooper for his signature.
Although the legislature has not been able to completely ban sweepstakes parlors, it’s vital that police chiefs, sheriffs and prosecutors have more tools to at least better contain them. This bill is that very tool, and it would take little time and effort for Speaker Moore to move it.
There are a lot of big and complex issues before the General Assembly. This one, however, is straightforward and easily addressed. And most important, it’s legislation that our cities and towns need as they try to develop and improve their communities for job creation and greater quality of life.
We urge Speaker Moore to act quickly on HB 577, chalk it up as a win and file it away as a piece of finished business.
— StarNews of Wilmington
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Show me a gambler and I’ll show you a loser.” (Mario Puzo)