SC video gaming operators want an injunction against sweepstakes machines’ seizure

mlucas@thestate.comOctober 21, 2012 

A group of video gaming operators arrested earlier this year has filed for a broad injunction against the State Law Enforcement Division and the S.C. Attorney General’s Office in an attempt to stop the seizure of their internet sweepstakes machines.

Seven plaintiffs arrested from April through August, including one in Richland County, took the action to prevent the further seizure of machines as well as non-gaming items.

Four of the plaintiffs have been arrested and charged in the past for owning and operating the machines in their businesses while the others fear similar action will be taken.

The seven are being represented by former SLED director Reginald Lloyd, who filed papers Oct. 15 stating that law enforcement officers do not have the legal right to seize the machines under state law.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott says he will continue acting according to the law as he understands it despite a request from Lloyd asking the sheriff to stop the search and seizures.

“We’re not consenting anytime to not enforce the law,” he said. “As long as there is a violation of the law, we will enforce it.”

In Richland County, internet sweepstakes machines can be found in convenience stores and in other small businesses.

Lott said no sweepstakes cafes have opened in the county, since his department seized machines and closed several cafes this summer.

“And if one does open up again, we’ll take steps again to close it down,” he said.

In addition, the injunction seeks to halt the seizure of non-gaming items such as ATMs, televisions, security cameras, rugs, chairs, signage and vehicles. Lloyd maintains the state Supreme Court has already ruled that video gaming is not covered by any statutes that allow items not related to video gambling to be seized and held.

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