Legislation that would have created a public referendum on allowing churches, schools and charities to hold raffles died in the South Carolina House Thursday.
Raffles have been a common practice for those entities for many years, even though they are illegal. Some charities say they have stopped the practice because of threats from law enforcement, which means that the charitable causes funded by those groups are losing major revenues.
Berkeley County Republican Jim Merrill talked to other lawmakers about his proposal, including Richland County Democrat Todd Rutherford. Merrill told Rutherford that a law for raffles would come with very specific limitations.
Opponents said legalizing raffles will open the door to video poker and other for-profit gambling. Spartanburg Republican Steve Parker told Merrill that if raffles were legal, that bogus churches could begin profiteering immediately. Merrill said that would not happen.
Dorchester County Republican Annette Young agreed that allowing raffles would be a big help for charities in this big recession.
(Merrill, Rutherford, Young, Parker on raffles MP3 3:07)
Merrill- Rutherford- Young- Parker on raffles
The 59-49 vote on raffles was less than the two-thirds majority required to add any legislation to the calendar at the last minute.