Thousands of state residents who enjoy clicking a virtual slot wheel or playing a hand of video poker in parlors and Internet cafes will have to find a new hobby.
On Wednesday, lawmakers voted to ban video sweepstakes parlors, rejecting arguments from industry supporters about the jobs, potential tax revenue and right to individual choice.
"This bill makes clear what our position is as to these enterprises. They are not welcome in North Carolina," said Rep. Melanie Wade Goodwin, a Rockingham Democrat, who called the industry a "cancer."
Players were not pleased. "They should be ashamed of themselves, taking away our little fun," said Annette Huggins, 53, who was clicking away inside a parlor behind a Starbucks on Capital Boulevard on Wednesday night.
That brand of fun has been the cause of a long-running and stubborn battle. The ban would take effect Dec. 1, but the industry is not likely to go quietly. A previous attempt to ban sweepstakes machines was effectively undone by lawsuits. The sweepstakes games arose after the legislature banned video poker.