Myrtle Beach City Council voted 5-1 Tuesday to uphold license suspensions for five sweepstakes businesses.
Councilman Michael Chestnut voted against upholding the suspension. Councilman Wayne Gray missed the Feb. 26 hearing so he could not vote on the matter.
Council members pointed to the S.C. General Assembly’s passage of a bill last week that outlawed all sweepstakes machines in the state.
“The governor signed a law Friday that made sweepstakes illegal,” Councilman Mike Lowder said, adding that he didn’t understand how they could reinstate business licenses to stores that have the illegal machines.
Businesses with suspended licenses include: Five Stars Internet Café at 706 N. Ocean Blvd.; Winners Circle Amusements at 1780 and 1788 U.S. Highway 501; Ocean 7 Business Center and Sweepstakes located at 218 Seventh Ave. S.; and Kings Business Center and Sweepstakes located at 1106 N. Kings Highway. Passage of the bill was meant to close what some lawmakers referred to as loopholes that business owners cited to operate sweepstakes cafes.
Attorneys representing the businesses argued at the February hearing that the licenses were suspended unjustly after city police and S.C. Law Enforcement Division officers confiscated computers at Five Stars Internet Café in January.
Myrtle Beach business license inspector Mary McDowell suspended the licenses at the four other Internet cafes that she said had similar machines.
At that hearing, Greg McCollum, attorney for Five Stars Internet Café, said the city should wait until a decision is made at the state level before revoking business licenses.
“I came here today knowing the law had changed and knowing that would likely determine the outcome,” McCollum said Tuesday.
Jonny McCoy, who represented the remaining four businesses, disagreed with the ruling.
“The decision is supposed to be based on sworn testimony and not based on what happened last Friday,” McCoy said.
McCoy said he doesn’t expect to appeal the council’s decision.
“My advice … will be to take their business elsewhere,” he said. “That’s what we were told to do and that’s what we’ll do.”