Myrtle Beach says goodbye to sweepstakes

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Closing up a shop is never easy for a business owner, especially when making money is not the problem.

Richard Reynolds owns Winners Circle Amusements off Highway 501 in Myrtle Beach. Since January, the closed sign has been hanging from his store-front window. The city of Myrtle Beach suspended all sweepstakes business months ago, but on Tuesday night, council members decided to revoke their business licenses all-together.

"Well it's sad. We had 15 full-time employees that don't have jobs anymore. We had a lot of loyal patrons," said Reynolds who now is facing unemployment after losing his business.

Governor Nikki Haley signed into law the measure last week, meant to close loopholes that business owners cite to operate so-called sweepstakes cafes. 

Reynolds said he is not surprised the council member made the decision they did, but he feels its still not justified, "we did everything by the book" he said. "We were licensed, we paid our fees, we were using certified software, and my attorney and I believe that the new law doesn't affect us. It affects people who have bingo, beer and wine permits, which we don't have and never have."

Reynolds and the other owners will have to weigh their options when it comes to opening up another business in the sweepstakes place or move outside the city limits.

"We want to be where we are wanted. We are innovative and create jobs. We aren't wanted in the city so I don't think we'll be opening anything else in the city," said Reynolds.

Attorney Gregory McCollum, is representing Five Stars Internet Cafe. He said the owner is working to figure out his next move as well, "he wants to do two things. He wants to make a sound business decision but also he wants to operate a lawful business. It was his belief all along that at the time he opened, he was operating a  lawful business."

According to McCollum and Attorney Jonny McCoy, who are representing businesses in this case, it doesn't look like an appeal is plausible at this time.

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