News: Quick Takes

Seventh Cooper veto targets ‘game nights’ bill

North Carolina lawmakers will have at least two vetoes to consider when they return to Raleigh. Gov. Roy Cooper used his veto stamp for the seventh time to reject House Bill 511, a proposal to allow nonprofit groups to hold so-called “game nights.”

“I am not opposed to legitimate nonprofits holding an occasional ‘game night’ to help with donations to worthy causes,” Cooper explained in a news release. “However, I believe this legislation as written could cause unintended problems. North Carolina law enforcement has fought for years against the for-profit video poker industry, and legitimizing charitable gambling in this way could give video poker a new way to infiltrate our communities. Allowing the industry to masquerade as a charity could cause unintended permits to be issued, and without tough criminal penalties enforcement would be difficult.”

The N.C. House approved the final version of H.B. 511 with a 76-32 vote. The Senate approved the measure, 27-15. Both chambers would need support from three-fifths of voting members to override the veto. That means 72 votes in the House if every member is present and voting and 30 members of the Senate. Twelve representatives and eight senators did not vote on the final version of H.B. 511.

The bill is designed to authorize and regulate nonprofit groups that hold “game nights,” allow alcohol consumption at game nights, increase the ability of nonprofit groups to hold fundraising raffles, and authorize reissuance of certain one-time Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission permits.

H.B. 511 represents Cooper’s seventh veto in his first year in office. The only other N.C. governor to veto that many bills in a single year was Democrat Beverly Perdue, who used her veto stamp 16 times in 2011.

Legislators have voted to override Cooper’s first five vetoes. The sixth, for House Bill 576, also awaits potential action from lawmakers when they return to Raleigh.

Cooper also signed 13 bills Wednesday. Ninety-four bills remain on his desk. He can sign those bills, veto them, or allow them to become law without his signature at the end of the month.