Sweepstakes shops in MB could permanently lose business licenses

The City of Myrtle Beach may shut down sweepstakes businesses for good. A business license revocation hearing is scheduled for Tuesday morning.

The move comes after a joint operation, where police and the State Law Enforcement Division seized machines.

Sweepstakes businesses like Winners Circle Amusements off Highway 501 went from being open 24/7 to closed indefinitely.

Initially, sweepstakes shops were able to operate with no interference and offered patrons the chance to win cash.

"We licensed them as arcades, essentially a video arcade," explained Mark Kruea, City of Myrtle Beach spokesman.

Last month SLED announced sweepstakes businesses and the machines they use are in violation of the state's 2000 video gambling law. Tightening a loophole in that law is currently being addressed in the General Assembly.

After SLED and city police seizure of machines at Five Stars Internet Cafe, the city notified several sweepstakes owners their business licenses were suspended because they "engaged in unlawful activity or nuisance arising from, or related, connected, associated with or to the operation of the business."

At the revocation hearing, "council will sit as as a hearing panel as a quasi judicial setting and they'll take evidence from both sides. I do not expect a decision tomorrow from the meeting. I think probably council will ask for draft orders from each of the sides then consider it at a later meeting," said Kruea.

Kruea added that if business licensees wish to appeal that decision, that appeal would go to circuit court.

Winners Circle Amusements tried to find a way to reopen their doors but they have not been successful, according to their Facebook page.