These boxes accompanied Sunday's editorial, explaining what these machines are and what the policies are in various local municipalities on allowing sweepstakes parlors:
What are these sweepstakes machines?
The devices can vary, from machines that look very much like the old video poker machines to ones that more closely resemble desktop computers. Standalone machines can be found in convenience stores, often just one or two per location. In these, players put in money and receive a product in return, such as a coupon or phone minutes. Then they can play poker, slots or other games for the chance to win prizes.
In Internet cafes that are popping up, dozens of computers are networked. Players often buy Internet time that allows them to surf the Web, but also gives them access to poker, keno, blackjack or other games. If they win, they might be paid in phone cards or more Internet time, which they can then trade in for cash.
How have local municipalities responded?
“Since they’re not legal in the state of South Carolina, they’re not legal in Horry County.” – Horry County spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier
Spokeswoman Jackie Broach said County Council members have decided not to take a position on the businesses and are waiting for the state legislature to act. In the meantime, if you want to open a sweepstakes business in Georgetown County, “we don’t have any laws saying you can’t.”
“While the State Law Enforcement Division and the solicitor’s office are saying they are illegal, the courts have not weighed in with a final determination. The courts are the ultimate authority. For the moment, rather than have our zoning enforcement and business license personnel say this is an illegal device, we are issuing business licenses, and that money is unrefundable.” – Myrtle Beach spokesman Mark Kruea
Administrator Bill Graham said they’ve had one application so far and advised the applicant that they thought the business was illegal under state law and wouldn’t approve a business license in Conway.
North Myrtle Beach
“The city of North Myrtle Beach will not issue a business license for this type of business until a decision as to their legality or illegality is made by the state attorney general or the General Assembly.” – North Myrtle Beach spokesman Pat Dowling
Did not return phone calls or emails about policy.
Official policy unclear, but at least one business is already in operation.