North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper handed down another veto yesterday, this time his veto is of a bill on “games nights.”
This latest veto brings his total since taking office to 7.
The 6th veto came the day after the legislature adjourned on House Bill 576, which deals with aerosolization of leachate from landfills.
So far, the legislature has overturned five of Cooper’s vetoes with an early August session being called to override additional vetoes.
What Bill Was Vetoed This Time
The vetoed bill is House Bill 551 and is titled Game Nights/Nonprofit Fund-Raiser. It passed the House 76-32 and the Senate 27-15.
The Governor’s website is apparently no longer posting the full veto messages and signature page, however the legislature has the veto documents readily available.
What HB 551 Does
Allows non-profit organizations to hold fundraisers or raffle events that have the theme of ‘games nights’ or ‘casino nights’.
The bill permits alcohol to be served and permit is required in order to hold such an event.
A qualifying establishment has to be designated in the application, along with the organizations tax status details and games that will be operated.
Such an event cannot have games that are played for cash or cash prizes. Prizes are only awarded through a raffle and cannot exceed $125,000 cash value.
The bill lists the approved games as Roulette, Blackjack, Poker, Craps, Simulated Horse Race and Merchandise wheel of fortune.
Any games not on the list would have to be included in the permit application and approved by Alcohol Law Enforcement.
These type of events can only be held up to 4 times a year.
Why Games Nights / HB 551 was Vetoed
Governor Cooper is worried the bill will let the video poker industry in the door to “masquerade” as a charity.
Cooper’s full veto statement:
I am not opposed to legitimate non-profits holding an occasional “game night” to help with donations to worthy causes. However, I believe this legislation as written could cause unintended problems. North Carolina law enforcement has fought for years against the for-profit video poker industry, and legitimizing charitable gambling in this way could give video poker a new way to infiltrate our communities. Unintended permits could be issued, he added, and “without tough criminal penalties enforcement would be difficult.” Proposed penalties in the bill are misdemeanors.
The Governor’s statement seems to imply that a non-profit holding “games nights” that might not be on the up and up or may have committed some infraction should be charged with a felony.
The bill’s language includes detailed permit instructions, as well as instructing the Department of Public Safety to report to the 2019 Regular Session of the General Assembly about game nights.
That report will detail the administration of game night event permits, including the total number of applications received by type of permit, total number of permits issued and the number of ABC violations reported at establishments that hosted game night events.
The bill also requires the Department of Public Safety to present any recommendations for changes to the game night act in their report.