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HIGH POINT, N.C. - Randleman, N.C.-based amusement company owner and legislative candidate Clarence Ray "Bucky" Jernigan can't operate any of his 260 video poker machines in North Carolina until a lawsuit contending the business is a public nuisance is resolved, reported the Associated Press.
Superior Court Judge John O. Craig ruled Friday that Jernigan's machines must remain sidelined because they are capable of awarding jackpots worth more than the $10 in merchandise allowed by state law. Craig noted that the machines display a gambler's winnings in dollars. Such cash prizes are illegal.
"To John Q. Public, the plain usage of the word 'dollar' means exactly what it says," he said. "And it defies logic to argue that people are pumping large amounts of money into these machines for the mere opportunity of winning merchandise valued at $10 or less."
Craig added that Randolph County and state government had presented "a preponderance of the evidence" suggesting they could prevail in the upcoming civil trial. The lawsuit contends Jernigan built a fortune by renting machines that made cash payouts exceeding the $10-a-day limit. A trial date has not been set.
The ruling could be a harbinger of trouble for the industry elsewhere in North Carolina. Many convenience stores and other businesses honor jackpots worth hundreds of dollars. To acknowledge state law, they limit the gambler to redeeming $10 per day in such merchandise as gasoline, food or drink.
Jernigan is a Republican candidate seeking the 70th District seat in the state House of Representatives. He and fellow Republican Jim Parker will face off against GOP incumbent Arlie Culp in the July 20 primary.