Five Sweepstakes business licenses revoked in Myrtle Beach

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - On Tuesday night, Myrtle Beach City Council passed a motion stating five local sweepstakes business' licenses would be revoked immediately.

"They knew that was a gamble themselves," Mayor John Rhodes said.

Mayor Rhodes was one of the five people to vote in favor of revoking the licenses. One council member voted against the motion.

"When the business license was issued, then they knew that the Attorney General could possibly rule that sweepstakes were not legal and therefore those licenses {could} be revoked," Mayor Rhodes said.

One of the five businesses, Winner's Circle Amusements voluntarily closed its doors in January after several raids had taken place throughout the city.  Attorney Jonny McCoy represents four of the five businesses shut down.

"My clients have basically been losing income of what we put on the record to be somewhere between ten and twenty thousand dollars a week," Attorney McCoy said.

On Friday, Governor Nikki Haley signed a bill that bans sweepstakes gambling and all video poker games across the state. Attorney McCoy said his client's stores don't fall under the new bill signed into law  because his client's do not have a beer, wine and liquor license, because his client's do not have a bingo license and because the machines they were operating were not games of chance.

"You buy your little cards at the counter when you walk in. And then it's already been determined whether you won or not. So it's like going to the lottery and saying, 'give me a quick pick,'" McCoy said.

The city held a public forum in February allowing the business owner's to testify why they should be allowed to stay open, but their plea to city council didn't work. Attorney McCoy said at this point, his clients aren't planning on taking the issue to a higher court and instead will leave the city altogether.

"They'll take their business elsewhere. I mean that's what they were told to do today, so that's what we're gonna do," Attorney McCoy said.

The five businesses that can no longer operate with their sweepstakes business license are: Winner's Circle Amusements (two locations); Ocean 7 Business Center & Sweepstakes; Kings business Center & Sweepstakes; and Five Stars Internet Café.

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