April 16, Horry County Magistrate Dennis Phipps rejected arguments made by attorneys for L.W. Flynn, who owned Carolina Forest sweepstakes business Magic Minutes, that the games were a promotional tool with no obligation to pay.
"I find that when viewing the entire operation of the Magic Minutes Sweepstakes facility, individuals are in fact gambling," Phipps' order states. "I find these machines are devices pertaining to games of chance of whatever name or kind, which have been prohibited in South Carolina for decades."
Gov. Nikki Haley recently signed a bill that strengthens the state's 2000 ban on video poker to include sweepstakes machines
In March, Spartanburg County deputies arrested Flynn, and charged him with having illegal gambling machines.
Flynn created Magic Minutes, a company in Carolina Forest that sells long-distance calling cards and offers buyers the chance to win cash prizes after playing casino games.
Spartanburg County ruled the machines illegal last year. Several machines were seized during a raid, and Flynn testified he had created and owned them.