The lawyer for seven video gaming operators or suppliers arrested in April, July and August in Richland, Sumter, Charleston and York counties has filed for an injunction against the State Law Enforcement Division and the S.C. Attorney Generals Office to get non-gaming equipment he says was confiscated in raids returned to his clients.
Columbia attorney Reginald Lloyd, in papers filed Oct. 15 with the Court of Common Pleas, argues that the state Supreme Court has already ruled that video gaming is not covered under a statute being cited by the state for holding, as evidence, items not related to video gaming. The filing also argues that the promotional contests operated or supported by his clients businesses are legitimate products and services.
Lloyd said his clients businesses have been wrongly stripped bare, with law enforcement often taking everything including money, ATM machines, rugs, chairs, television sets, security cameras, business signs and vehicles. The law only allows law enforcement to seize machines suspected of being prohibited and does not cover money, rugs, TV, etc., Lloyd argues in his complaint.
SLED and local law enforcement, Lloyd said, are acting like storm troopers.. We want the practice to stop.
The injunction seeks a return of all non-video gaming property and a statement from the court that the criminal code being used to hold the property does not apply to his clients contests.
Lloyd said Friday night his clients also may be entitled to damages because of the unwarranted harassment by the state.
In July, days after Richland County deputies and SLED raided Cafe 21 on Sparkleberry Lane Extension, a business owned by one of Lloyds clients, Sheriff Leon Lott said he hoped internet sweepstakes centers and stores that host individual sweepstakes machines get the message. Its only a matter of time, Lott said. Theres a big demand for us to do something.
They can send any message they want, Lloyd said but they have to have a legal foundation.
Raids conducted over the summer followed the unsuccessful effort launched by SLED in February to get the S.C. Legislature to clarify the states law and declare sweepstakes machines illegal.
Read full complaint