Columbia Police Seize Video Gambling Machines
In the month of May, the Columbia Police Department seized 22 video gambling machines at 10 businesses in Columbia.
After the legislature closed a loophole in video gambling law that allowed sweepstakes machines to flourish all over the state, the Columbia Police Department under acting chief Ruben Santiago took the initiative to investigate and seize the machines.
“South Carolina has made it very clear that these machines, the specific ones that are gaming machines that are illegal — we have to enforce that law,” said CPD Interim Chief Ruben Santiago.
However, the department reportedly lacked the expertise to investigate and confiscate the machines, so Santiago reached out to the State Law Enforcement Division.
SLED sent an agent to work with the police force’s hospitality division, which monitors entertainment-focused areas like 5 Points and the Vista.
“The hospitality team is made up of a fire marshal, police officers, business licensing, and zoning and codes,” said Santiago.
The video gambling machines were found at and confiscated from local businesses including convenience stores and a Laundromat. Most were seized based on tips from the public.
Business owners caught with video gambling machines, including sweepstakes machines, have been charged with misdemeanor gambling, according to Santiago.
Reportedly, the video gambling machines were worth $50,000, and another $1,000 in cash was seized with the machines.
“We’re looking for patterns and clusters to see where the machines are coming from, find out with interviews from the owners what brought them to have these machines in the first place,” said Santiago.
Ultimately, it is up to a magistrate to determine whether or not the video gambling machines fall within the law. However, now that the South Carolina legislature updated the video gambling laws, it is easier to determine which machines are legal, and which are illegal video gambling operations.
The Strom Law Firm Prosecutes Operators of Video Gambling Machines
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.
Do Not Let Video Gambling Charges Ruin Your Future
The attorneys at the Strom Law Firm have experience with illegal 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.