12 Illegal Video Gambling Devices Found in Lexington, SC Raids
Three raids on Lexington County businesses on Thursday, January 15th uncovered 12 illegal video gambling machines, a video surveillance system, and cash.
The largest raid occurred at Oak Grove Business Park in West Columbia. Investigators uncovered 5 Pot-O-Gold video gambling machines, a five-camera surveillance system, and $70 in cash.
The second raid occurred at the Anchor Lanes Bowling Alley in Irmo. Police seized three Pot-O-Gold and one Pot-O-Silver video gambling machines, as well as $194 in cash.
Finally, the Horseshoe Tavern in West Columbia was raided and investigators seized two tabletop video gambling machines along with $938 in cash.
On Friday, January 16th, a magistrate judge determined that all 12 of the video gambling machines were illegal devices under South Carolina law. However, no arrests have been made yet in connection with the video gambling operations.
Video 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 machines as illegal gambling. 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.
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 Video Poker 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 cases, including a case against a local Columbia restaurant.
With the new influx of video gambling machines, South Carolina citizens face substantial gambling losses, and damage to their families and communities. South Carolina has several laws in place to protect gamblers and their families from the financial ruin that their gambling addiction can cause.
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 in video poker 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 video gambling 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.