South Carolina Gets One Step Closer to Passing Stricter Gambling Law

By Beecher Tuttle February 22, 2012

Lawmakers in South Carolina are making headway in their effort to outlaw casino-style gaming machines that they believe circumvent state laws banning gambling.

The state Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday signed a bill that attempts to clarify the 12-year-old statute that outlaws games of chance. Authorities have claimed that the ambiguity of the law has enabled companies to market a new series of machines called sweepstakes devices, which allow users to buy items like long distance cards and then enter to win various prizes, according to The State. These machines also provide access to games like poker, keno and bingo.

"We're rapidly going down the slope of what is essentially video poker," Sen. Larry Martin (R-Pickens) told the news source. "It will replicate itself in every convenience store in South Carolina if the Legislature doesn’t address it."

Lawmakers were forced to act on the matter after two South Carolina state judges ruled that the machines were legal under the current law. Authorities have asked lawmakers to clear up the ambiguity.

Meanwhile, makers of the new machines have begun to garner for public support, explaining that the in-store devices are not gambling, but simple sources of entertainment.

Bob Coble, an attorney for sweepstakes machine maker Pace-O-Matic, told The State that the devices are often confused with Internet-enabled gambling machines. Most sweepstakes are not connected to the Web, Coble said, and are not outlets for gambling.

"It would be unfair to single out the small business owner but not the casino-style operations," he told the website.

The matter is now expected to be heard in front of the House Committee later on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, state lawmakers in Iowa are headed the other direction, and are looking to legalize online poker in an effort to increased state revenues. The bill in question would allow citizens to register for a state-sponsored site and play online poker with other Iowa citizens – an act that is currently illegal under Federal law.


Edited by Rich Steeves

TechZone360 Contributor

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