Prosecutors turn to state on sweepstakes machines

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - As North Carolina wrapped up their first day of a ban on sweepstakes style gaming machines, authorities in South Carolina say they are working toward uniform enforcement of gambling.

South Carolina has a ban on gambling that's been on the books since 1999, but since 2011, Horry County Assistant Solicitor Donna Elder told WMBF News that sweepstakes style businesses are becoming more prevalent, in a attempt to test the limits of state statutes.

Elder says police have raided some businesses, but the issue has become too complex for local law enforcement and judicial circuits to handle.

"They were going to different circuits, trying to use, for example, something a judge did in Greenville County, and make it applicable to Horry County," Elder explained. "Each county is a little bit different in how they're set up."

It's why elder says the South Carolina Attorney General's office and SLED have taken most gaming machine cases out of local agencies hands.

"An agreement [formed] that the Attorney General's office would take over the prosecution, because it was state-wide, and it was an issue that was kind of a hot button topic for the entire state," Elder stressed. "There needed to be consistency."

Elder said unless state lawmakers come up with a more specific piece of legislation regulating the machines they will count state resources to enforce the law to the best of their understanding.

"Games of chance that are illegal are anytime you're putting money in [and] betting," Elder said. "Whether you're betting on a visa card, or if there's a phone card, anything for value, has been determined to be gambling...if it's a game of chance"

Former Horry County Solicitor and now State Senator Greg Hembree tells WMBF News he hopes to address loopholes in state law regarding gambling and gaming machines during legislative session this year.

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