Horry County judge orders 24 Little River video sweepstakes machines to be destroyed

An Horry County judge has ordered 24 video gaming machines to be destroyed after they were seized from a Little River business, according to 15th Circuit Solicitor Greg Hembree.

Horry County Chief Summary Court Judge Gerald Whitley ruled Wednesday that the 24 video gaming machines, Figure Eight Sweepstakes Games, should be destroyed because they are illegal gaming machines, Hembree said. The games were seized June 28, 2011, by Horry County police and the case turned over to the S.C. Attorney General’s Office for prosecution.

On Feb. 17, a consent order dismissed criminal charges and $491 was forfeited in connection with the case, according to the order. Horry County police had filed the action against SC Foam LLC, which was doing business as Wine and Time and 24 Computer Workstations.

Video poker parlors have opened in the state and operated a form of games on the basis they are not illegal based on technicalities, Hembree said.

“Judge Whitley’s ruling has dealt a blow to those who would ignore the law regulating video poker and claim some strained legal technicality,” Hembree said. “The courts are not the place to attempt to legalize video poker in South Carolina.”

The gaming machines were seized from Wine and Time at 82 Cloverleaf Drive, Suite 105, which is located off S.C. 9, according to authorities.

After a decade of debate, state lawmakers banned video poker in South Carolina 12 years ago putting a halt to the $3 billion industry that included video gaming parlors and video poker machines in gas stations, restaurants and bars.

The ban has been challenged several times and makers of the machines say they are not the same as the video poker machines. The video gaming machines operate on a game of chance.

The customer can play the games or use the computer time, but they must insert a card which has money attached, according to the court order signed by Whitley on July 26.

The customer can wager “his alleged `free plays’ as a part of playing the game. If a customer wins cash from playing one of these games, he then may ‘cash out’ his winnings from the store clerk where the machine is located,” according to the order. “Because this machine is a device operated by a slot which is deposited a coin or thing of value for the place of poker, blackjack, keno or craps it is unlawful.”