Lexington Police Seize 20 Illegal Gambling Machines from Mobile Home
Investigators seized 20 illegal gambling machines on Wednesday, November 27th, from a mobile home used as a storage building in West Columbia.
The owner and occupant of a second mobile home, 66-year-old David Lee Chase, reportedly owns the property on which the illegal gambling devices were found. Police are still investigating his involvement with the illegal gambling machines.
On Wednesday around 3:38 PM, Lexington police received a call about a break-in at the mobile home where the devices were stored. According to the police report, Chase reportedly opened the front door of the mobile home and a man inside ran away. Deputies have not identified the alleged burglar yet.
Deputies called narcotics investigators to the scene to investigate, and officers found 20 illegal gambling machines in the mobile home, as well as furniture and other items that would have been used in a bar. The machines were reportedly Pot-O-Gold devices, which are illegal under South Carolina’s video poker laws. Law enforcement seized the illegal gambling machines.
LCSD asks anyone with information about illegal video gambling devices to call the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department at (803) 785-8230 or CrimeStoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC.
Citizens also can report information anonymously by accessing the Crime Tip link on the Sheriff’s Department web site.
Illegal Gambling Machine Controversy in South Carolina
South Carolina began cracking down on wide-spread video gambling operations in 1999, when lawmakers passed a bill that defined all video poker and some sweepstakes devices as illegal gambling machines. For a few years, gambling operations disappeared. However, some operators found a loophole in the law, which allowed for a boom in sweepstakes machines.
Sweepstakes machines sell small items, like phone cards, which in itself is not gambling. However, when a customer purchases an item from a sweepstakes machine, they also have a chance to win prizes at the machine.
Legally, sweepstakes machines fell into a grey area – police could raid establishments that operated sweepstakes machines, but a county judge would have to formally decide whether or not the machines fell within video poker laws and were therefore illegal video gambling devices. More often than not, judges would agree with law enforcement, but occasionally there were disputes.
The new law specifically states that sweepstakes machines are illegal video gambling devices.
Opponents of the bill say that sweepstakes machines are not the same as video poker machines, and are actually more like perfectly legal sweepstakes offerings like McDonald’s Monopoly sweepstakes. They also point out that the state of South Carolina currently runs a lottery, which specifically raises money for education. If sweepstakes machines become illegal, then the state will have a monopoly on gambling.
Proponents of the bill say that clearing up the legislation will help save communities that are hurt by illegal gambling. They claim that, before the legislation that outlawed video gambling, owners of the machines paid lobbyists, which corrupted local governments and law enforcement.
The Strom Law Firm Prosecutes Operators of Illegal Gambling Machines
The Strom Law Firm was one of the first law firms to bring suits against the video gambling and poker industry in the late 1990s seeking to recover gambling losses. Since that time, Strom Law Firm has litigated a couple of video poker and illegal gambling machine cases, including a case against a local Columbia restaurant.
A family or relative may file suit anytime within one year from the time the money is lost gambling. If you or a family member has lost money to illegal gambling machines or gambling addiction within the last year, you may have legal rights, and should contact a lawyer immediately.
The attorneys at the Strom Law Firm have experience with illegal gambling machine cases, as part of state criminal defense. We offer a free consultation to discuss the facts of your case. To have a lawyer evaluate your case, please call us at 803.252.4800.