RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- North Carolina's video sweepstakes halls could be closed soon after the state's highest court refused a request from industry officials to delay those closings while they appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The state Supreme Court on Wednesday denied the request from the sweepstakes game industry to delay last week's decision that sweepstakes halls are gambling operations. The refusal could shut down hundreds of businesses across North Carolina.
Industry officials say they don't expect the order to be enforced for 20 days, when it becomes final. In the meantime, its attorneys say they'll continue their fight through the courts with further appeals.
The industry had sought a few weeks to see if the U.S. Supreme Court would consider its claim of free-speech protections.
Companies that produce the software behind video sweepstakes games want to delay closing down North Carolina's sweepstakes halls as they seek help from the U.S. Supreme Court.
The companies lost last week when the state Supreme Court upheld a state law declaring the sweepstakes halls as gambling operations. The industry has asked the state Supreme Court to delay enforcement of the law that could shut down hundreds of businesses across North Carolina.
The industry says it needs a few weeks to see if the U.S. Supreme Court will consider its claim of free-speech protections. The high court ruled last year that video games are protected just like books and films.
North Carolina's sheriffs are gearing up to start enforcing the law outlawing video sweepstakes operations next month.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)