South Carolina law enforcement officials say they are planning a crackdown on video poker machines that have begun surfacing more frequently the past three years.
Video poker was banned in South Carolina in 2000, but the State Law Enforcement Division says the machines have begun appearing again at hundreds of locations around the state.
New SLED Chief Mark Keel said the machines were not a high priority under previous director Reggie Lloyd. “Even before I was confirmed, I started getting phone calls from (police) chiefs, sheriffs and members of the Legislature,” he said, “They were complaining to me about these games with the hopes that we were going to get back into the business of enforcing these statutes.”
The agency is working on a new initiative to deal with those businesses that have begun illegally operating the machines. Officials say they will have more specifics at the end of the month.
Keel said many of the machines are in convenience stores, where owners may not be aware that they’re breaking the law. He blamed those who sell the machines to convenience stores of misleading store owners about their legality.
“We’re not trying to catch anybody off-guard or by surprise,” Keel said, “SLED has not done a whole lot of this type of enforcement the last few years. We’re trying to let people know ahead of time. If they think they have games in their business that may be illegal, we’re giving them the opportunity to get them out.”
SLED officials met with the South Carolina Association of Convenience Stores last week.
Keel said South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson has agreed to help defend any legal cases that may result from SLED’s enforcement actions.