WJTV News Channel 12 - Casino-style 'game nights' could become legal for nonprofits

Casino-style 'game nights' could become legal for nonprofits

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A bill making its way through the N.C. House would make it legal for nonprofits to use casino-style gaming as a fundraising technique by allowing them to host "game nights."

"It's a fun way for the nonprofit to make money," explained Frank Gray, counsel for the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association.

He says the NCRLA is backing the bill because the restaurants and hotels who would host these game nights would benefit as well.

The bill does have restrictions.

The only games allowed to be played would be roulette, blackjack, poker, craps, Keno and merchandise Wheel of Fortune.

Before a nonprofit could host a game night, it would have to obtain a permit from the Alcohol Law Enforcement agency of the Department of Public Safety.

Only nonprofits who have been in existence for at least five years could qualify, and they would only be permitted to host four game nights per year.

There are also limits on the number of these game nights each restaurant or hotel can host.

While the games can be played under normal rules, no cash prizes can be given out.

"There is no money at risk," Gray said.

But the bill is not coming without opposition. Some organizations say the risks of gambling, even for a good cause, still greatly outweigh any benefits.

"We all want to help nonprofits, but this would not be a good way to accomplish that," explained Jere Royall, counsel for the North Carolina Family Policy Council.

The NCFPC researched several states with a similar law already on the books.

"Non-profits receive only, on average, 4 to 5 percent of the proceeds, while the state sees increases in the problem of addicted gamblers; along with the related social ills of crime, bankruptcy and broken families," Royall said.

Supporters say the bill has the right safeguards in place to make keep that from happening, but others disagree.

It will be a gamble the state legislature will have to decide whether to bet on.

The bill is scheduled to move before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

Jonathan Rodriguez

Jonathan Rodriguez is an investigative reporter and member of the WNCN Investigates team. His storytelling specialty is connecting the dots to get to the truth, with a goal of delivering results for our community. If you have something you’d like WNCN to investigate, contact Jonathan.

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