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Video poker industry headed toward slow fold

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Topics: Elections | Legislature | Politicians Columns: Christensen | Under the Dome Photo Column: Jones StreetVideo poker machines have long been legal in North Carolina -- so long as they do not pay out prizes of more than $10 in merchandise. JULY 1, 2000: South Carolina's video poker ban begins, causing worries that about 32,000 machines would be moved to North Carolina. The state Senate moves to ban the machines. But a House bill prevails, limiting the number of machines at any location and allowing only machines that were here before the South Carolina ban. DEC. 19, 2001: A federal grand jury charges former state Transportation Secretary Garland B. Garrett Jr. and his father with 248 counts of operating an illegal gambling business and money laundering. Charges were later dismissed against Garrett's father, who died in 2003. Garrett was sentenced to five months in prison. DECEMBER 2003: Democracy North Carolina, a nonpartisan political campaign watchdog group, reports that the video poker industry spent more than $800,000 on political campaigns in the state for the 2000 and 2002 elections. House Speaker Jim Black took in the most for the 2002 election, more than $100,000.

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