Legality of SC lottery sweepstakes in question

Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011 7:58 AM
Last updated 8:07 AM
  • Follow Government

COLUMBIA -- South Carolina retailers who offer electronic sweepstakes to customers are feeling jittery.

That’s according to one member of the S.C. Education Lottery Oversight Committee , a panel made up of state legislators and members of the public.

“The question is, are electronic sweepstakes legal in South Carolina?” said Alexander Shadwick, after Tuesday’s meeting.

“They don’t know if the games are legal or illegal, so the courts have to decide,” he said.

“But it scares all the retailers.”

Shadwick likened the activity to using coupons or putting in $20 and purchasing songs on iTunes while also being entered into a contest.

This month The State newspaper quoted the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division chief announcing a renewed effort to combat illegal video poker games. The industry was banned in 2000 but frequently arises in legislative debates about relaxing the state’s restrictions on raffles.

During Tuesday’s committee meeting, Paula Harper Bethea, the executive director of the S.C. Education Lottery, shied away from the suggestion that she was targeting “sweepstakes” in a warning she issued to retailers.

“I’ve heard the whole sweepstakes-game talk, frontwards, backwards, and that’s not for me to decide,” she said.

“A magistrate in South Caroline ultimately has to decide that. ... What I do enforce, however, is who sells our lottery products.”

She said she has been working with lottery officials in Georgia and North Carolina on how to address the effects of Internet gaming on state-run lottery programs.

In May, Bethea sent a letter to the state’s 3,700 ticket retailers to warn them that the agency could revoke or suspend their lottery license if they violate state laws.

“Please be aware that a machine can be determined to be illegal by a local judge even if cash or other items are not given in exchange for credits earned while playing the machine,” wrote Bethea.

“You may wish to consult with an attorney or local or state law enforcement officials to assist you in determining which machines are appropriate under state law and which are not.”

In June the S.C. Attorney General’s office responded to a question from Beaufort County Sheriff P. J. Tanner. The county official was asking whether the owner of a Hilton Head Island restaurant could operate Sweepstakes Promotional electronic games by Products Direct, LLC.

The letter said the office was unable to say if a specific machine was illegal.

But if police had probable cause that it was, then the machine should be seized and taken to the magistrate, who could decide on a machine-by-machine basis.

Comments (5) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Taylor B
Taylor B 09/28/11 - 08:36 am
Ugh... because there is

Ugh... because there is nothing else better for law enforcement and the courts to do, right?

TK3 09/28/11 - 09:16 am
So much for "FREE" enterprise

So much for "FREE" enterprise !
Trying to have/run a small business is a big enough gamble without having Big Brother on your back also.

augusta citizen
augusta citizen 09/28/11 - 04:21 pm
I laugh when I hear people up

I laugh when I hear people up in arms about "protecting people" from gambling their money away. The same people who were "hooked" on video gambling are in line at the convenience stores blowing their money on lottery tickets anyway.

JRC2024 09/28/11 - 10:07 pm
Let me do as I want with my

Let me do as I want with my money. I earned it.

Vito45 09/28/11 - 11:31 pm
I agree with you JRC2024, to

I agree with you JRC2024, to a point.... It does bother me that it is less well to do people (judging from the outward appearance of many I see in the Lotto lines) who make up the larger portion of people playing Lotto. I would not doubt that plays out to people who did/would play the SC gaming machines too, looking the for the big payday. How many of these folks are on fixed income or worse, welfare?

At the end of the day though, you are correct; it is your money to spend or waste as you please. I would just ask that people not turn to the taxpayer after they've frittered away their own money.

Iwannakno 09/29/11 - 09:27 am
Video poker was deemed

Video poker was deemed illegal because there is no skill required to win...ummm someone please tell me what skill it takes to scratch off a lotto ticket or play bingo? The real truth is the government doesn't get their cut of the pie. Given their way they would cut out any transaction that they can't keep an eye on. Watch for the paperless cureency push. Austin already pushes it on his show. It's a bad idea!

Back to Top
Search Augusta jobs
Top headlines
Augusta VA supervisor sentenced to prison
In what the judge called a "tragic case," a former Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center supervisor was sentenced Thursday to 27 months in federal prison for making false statements in medical files.