Two weeks ago the North Carolina Supreme Court finally — and rightly — ruled that so-called Internet parlors, or Internet cafes, are gambling establishments and therefore subject to state and local regulation.
That ruling effectively ends their existence in the state, since the General Assembly outlawed their operation several years ago. Since 2007 these establishments had continued operating while the industry fought in the court system under several dubious claims.
One such assertion is that the patrons weren’t really gambling when they forked their money over, but were simply buying Internet time — what they did with that Internet time was their business. This line of reasoning was, to be blunt, a load of crock. Internet time is what you pay $20 a month for to your local cable company or Internet service provider. People plunking down their money at these cafes were gambling, plain and simple.
The state supreme court, in its ruling, said what some lower courts didn’t seem to have the good sense to understand — identifying Internet sweepstakes as the “functional equivalent of gambling,” thus the state is well within its right to regulate or ban such operations.
Locally, one Internet cafe owner said it’s unfair for the state to outlaw his mode of business while allowing a state-sanctioned lottery, and we agree. The state lottery serves no good purpose and accomplishes nothing of importance. Its main function seems to be parting folks from their money, with a secondary function of creating and maintaining a few unneeded state jobs.
As the old saying goes, two wrongs don’t make a right. The lottery, unfortunately, appears here to say. Internet cafes, though, seem to be on their way out.
It’s about time.