Sweepstakes gaming computers seized in McColl

Marlboro County sheriff's deputies, assisted by the State Law Enforcement Division say they've seized 35-40 personal computers, on which sweepstakes games were being played, from J&K Sweepstakes on Highway 15-401 in McColl.

Law enforcement raided the business Wednesday afternoon.

Deputies say the sheriff's office warned the owners of the businesses that they would be coming at some point to confiscate the machines.

No charges or citations have been given out in connection to Wednesday's raid.

Tuesday, the Cheraw police chief says his department seized 20 illegal gambling devices at nine businesses. Chief Jay Brooks says the State Law Enforcement Division wrote violations against the business owners, but the owners haven't been charged. Brooks says charges, if there are any, will be determined by a magistrate.

Earlier this week Richland County's sheriff said his department would start cracking down on the machines after the State Senate passed a bill declaring the machines illegal.

The Senate voted overwhelmingly on the bill to close any loophole business owners cite to operate the sweepstakes machines. Judiciary Committee Chairman Larry Martin of Pickens says the bill clears up any ambiguity.

The bill still needs to be voted on in the House.

South Carolina banned video gambling in 2000. Police say the new machines violate that prohibition. Gambling machines, or games of chance, were banned in South Carolina in 2000.

Supporters of the machines say they are like contests offered by stores and even McDonald's. They sell products such as long-distance phone cards, then offer customers a chance for prizes.

Judges have issued conflicting rulings on the legality.

SLED spokesman Thom Berry says as far as SLED is concerned, the machines are illegal.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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