Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 5, 2007
Good riddanceCritics who argue that the phase-out of video poker machines won’teradicate this form of gambling are right. Some operators will try to circumvent the ban, which took effect Sunday, by harboring the machines illegally in secret locations.
It’s true that illegal poker parlors will no doubt continue, just as prostitution and the illegal drug trade persist despite laws against them. It’s also true that there’s a contradiction between the state banning one form of gambling while advocating its own lottery. But that doesn’t mean the video-poker ban was ill-conceived. Video poker has had a pernicious influence in the state for decades. Unscrupulous operators have often tried to bypass regulations, feeding the addiction of gambling and creating enforcement problems for local authorities. The industry also has left a lingering stain on the state’s politics, where its primary supporter was former House Speaker Jim Black, who was able to protect the industry until his own ethical and legal problems ended his political career.
Video poker was never the “mom and pop” operation its supporters depicted. It was big-time gambling, and big-time business for the video-poker industry. You can see proof of that in ongoing legal challenges trying to overturn the ban. While the ban won’t end video-gambling in North Carolina, it does make it less accessible to gullible citizens ó and that’s an improvement.