The State Senate is a procedural vote away from passing its first major legislation of the new session– a bill to classify video sweepstakes machines as illegal under the video poker law. In a 40-2 vote on second reading, senators quickly moved along bill S.3 which is well-supported by the state’s law enforcement community.
South Carolina banned video gambling in 2000, yet some judges have found loopholes in the law.
The Senate voted Tuesday to make illegal what have become known as sweepstakes cafes. Judiciary Committee Chairman Larry Martin (R-Pickens) was one of the bill’s sponsors. He explained, “It will clear up any misunderstanding about the sweepstakes machines that are really old video poker machines that have been reconfigured as a gateway into video poker gambling. We felt it best to go ahead and make a policy statement on it and clear up any ambiguity that was in the law.”
Sen. Brad Hutto (D-Orangeburg) was one of the two votes against the measure.
He argued that the bill is hypocritical, “The concept of people spending their money on a game of chance, we endorse. We endorse the lottery, we endorse bingo. So we endorse the concept, we just want to micromanage the arenas in which you can do it.”
He said that video poker was actually supported by a majority of South Carolinians “because people realize it should be their choice, not us, to tell them what they can do with their money.”
The bill will head to the House after its third reading.