Some sweepstakes businesses get raided and some get permits

2011 Gaming Machine Bust in Little River

There's never been a clear ruling or law in South Carolina that's made sweepstakes gaming machines illegal.

Thursday, a US District Judge ruled in favor of a Sumter police raid on a sweepstakes business in July, essentially saying the machines taken from the business are illegal.

But inside Myrtle Beach city limits, similar businesses keep opening up.

"While we may have an opinion, ultimately it's the courts opinion maybe even the Supreme Courts opinion that is the final say," city spokesperson Mark Kruea said. "Until that occurs, it's not something we're comfortable saying yes that's an illegal device. That's something the courts have to say... What if we said they're illegal and the courts said they're legal? That's not a good position to be in."

Horry County officials say the machines are illegal.

"We do not permit them because they are not deemed legal in the state," county spokesperson Lisa Bourcier said.

But with lawmakers meeting next week, a law to finish the debate may be in the works.

"We're going to hear that bill in debate on Tuesday in our full judiciary meeting," State Senator and and former prosecutor Greg Hembree said. "I think you'll see very quick action on that bill on the Senate and I think out of the House as well is what I'm hearing."

The problem lies with the courts, Hembree said.

"The bigger problem was the legal system overall, because what you do is you enforce and they challenge it in court and in the meantime, they just keep those machines ruling," he said.

The county cannot overturn a ruling in the city, according to Hembree. But he said that can only come from the state.

"The state does supercede county and city ordinances," Hembree said. "So the state can fix the problem.

That fix may come next week when legislators meet discuss sweepstakes legality once again.