Kudos to S.C. lawmakers – and
particularly Murrells Inlet Republican Sen. Ray Cleary – for pushing through
legislation to give voters the chance to allow churches and other nonprofits to
hold fundraising raffles.
editorial calls for some clarity, one way or the other, on gambling in the
Carolina lawmakers seeking to quash the rebirth of video gambling in the state
should pay close attention to efforts across the border to the north.
Carolina’s legislature banned video sweepstakes machines – a thinly disguised
version of video poker or other games – in 2010. An appellate court ruling that
year declared the law unconstitutional, but the state’s Supreme Court disagreed
in December and the ban went into effect Jan. 3, just a couple of weeks ago.
statewide ban by the legislature coupled with a ruling by the top court in the
state? That’ll mean curtains for the sweepstakes business in North Carolina,
right? Not even close.
Sunday’s main editorial offers a
glance at some more local issues that we’ll be paying attention to as the
legislature gets in gear this year:
The 120th General Assembly of South
Carolina began its work this past Tuesday with a long to-do list already
waiting. An unprecedented hacking of the state Department of Revenue requires
urgent attention to cybersecurity. Ethics issues that have entangled prominent
state leaders have renewed calls for a revamping of the S.C. Ethics Commission
and legislative ethics committees. Education leaders have proposed a dramatic
rewrite of the school funding formulas. The governor and Republicans continue
to push for deeper tax cuts, particularly for manufacturers.
And looming over it all are two
lawsuits in front of the S.C. Supreme Court that threaten to unmake the state
budget, one that seeks to do away with the state’s many tax exemptions and
another long-running suit that argues the state does not devote enough money to
school funding. Either could throw funding deliberations for a loop when or if
But in this busy swirl of statewide
problems are also many local issues that have the attention of Grand Strand
folks or that at least deserve our attention.
Sunday’s editorial urges state
lawmakers to clarify quickly that the new video gambling machines showing up
around the state are illegal. Don’t leave it up to the courts, which could take
years and years.
State lawmakers need to decide, and
decide soon: Is video gambling something we want to allow or not? We’d prefer
not, but any clarity one way or the other would be preferable to the gray area
we’re stumbling through right now.
Didn’t the state already decide this
issue back in 2000? We thought so, too. But having ferreted out a possible
weakness in the 12-year-old ban on video gambling, gaming interests are
barreling through the supposed loophole at high speed.
Friday’s first editorial, in which we celebrate the recent ruling forcing the SunCruz owners to start fulfilling their contract once again:
At last Horry County seems to be gaining some traction in its scuffle with the owners of the SunCruz casino boat, based in Little River. In a positive turn for the county, and for county taxpayers, a judge late last month ordered the vessel’s owners to begin paying the fees once again and to prepare for the eventuality that they will need to pay the debt to the county they’ve racked up over the last year.
The more than 1,800 employees of Horry County should be steamed. As the County Council continues to debate first whether it can afford to give those workers a raise at all this year and next whether that well-deserved raise would be a measly 1 percent (after no raises since 2008) or a just slightly better 2 percent, at least some of the reason for that penny-pinching sits docked up in Little River.
The owners of the SunCruz casino boat, which takes gamblers out to international waters, have refused since last summer to pay the county the $7 per passenger fee they agreed to back in 2010. As the county’s subsequent lawsuit works its way through the courts, the lost revenue continues to add up, to the point the county now estimates they’re owed more than $500,000. With a resolution potentially years down the road, that total continues to grow, and county residents stand to lose a significant amount of money that could be put to use right now.
Saturday’s editorial (provided by The State) takes another critical look at the effort to legalize charity raffles in the state:
By Cindi Ross Scoppe
When legislators start talking about allowing churches and other charities to hold raffles, my mind conjures up an image of something akin to what my church used to hold:
The raffle and luncheon was held after Mass, in the fellowship hall. The event committee prepared lunch and purchased a roll of raffle tickets and a few prizes; parishioners donated more prizes, and then paid $1, $5 and $10 for tickets, which they placed in plastic cups in front of the items they hoped to win. After lunch, someone drew a ticket from each cup, children distributed the prizes, we put all the proceeds into our scholarship fund, and everyone went home. (It was only after I had sat through a confusing planning meeting, prepared food and purchased tickets at the event that I realized that the “tricky tray” was actually an illegal raffle; when I told the organizers why I couldn’t be associated with such an event in the future, they decided our church couldn’t be either.)
This past Sunday, observant readers of The Sun News likely spotted an odd confluence of stories. On one page, we publicized a local 50/50 raffle raising money for after-school programs. A few pages further back, we published a story about how such raffles are illegal.
Friday’s editorial lines up behind the current state push to legalize charity raffles and home games while keeping larger gambling illegal.
Legalizing gambling creates a host of legitimate concerns, many of which we’ve detailed in these pages.
Some vociferously pro-gambling South Carolinians (given voice by state Sen. Robert Ford’s bid for governor, which garnered 34,000 votes statewide out of about 600,000 cast in the June primaries) would “improve” Myrtle Beach by legalizing casinos here – though not in their own backyards, of course. Ford had some optimistic figures: He’d sell the state license for $1 billion, and use the money to rescue the state’s public schools.
Saturday’s editorial re-examines the perennial debate over
legalizing gambling on the Grand Strand.
While the never-ending debate over
gambling often feels tiresome, a detailed article last week by Zane Wilson for
The Sun News was an excellent reminder of why the issue is, for so many area
residents, a settled one.
The math is simple. Video poker
brought in $60 million in tax revenue, but caused $424 million – seven times as
much – in costs to society.