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Bill Calls For 1-Year Phase-Out Of Video Poker

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A House committee recommended a bill Tuesday that would ban video poker machines in North Carolina by next summer, a move that represents a dramatic change in the stance of Speaker Jim Black. With no dissenting votes, the House Rules Committee approved a measure that would slowly reduce the number of machines any retailer could operate. The law changes will not affect online poker, they only pertain to the use of video poker machines within the state.

The existing maximum is three. The bill would reduce it to two by Oct. 1, one by March 1 and zero on July 1, 2007. A full House vote could come as early as Wednesday, according to a spokeswoman for Black, who has favored tougher regulations on the games instead of a complete ban. The Senate has approved a ban several times since 2000, including this year. The North Carolina Sheriffs' Association has also supported a ban, while the video poker industry opposes the idea. "It's a good compromise.

I don't think either side is totally happy," said Rep. Bill Owens, D-Pasquotank, who will lead the arguments on the House floor to pass the bill. Owens said the phase out will give legal operators time to sell their poker machines and find other ways to make up for the lost profits.

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