Richland judge rules Internet sweepstakes machines illegal

January 11, 2013 

A magistrate judge has ruled that 21 computers seized during a July raid on an Internet sweepstakes parlor are illegal gambling devices.

The computers were seized by State Law Enforcement Division agents and Richland County Sheriff’s deputies during a joint raid on Cafe 21 on Sparkleberry Lane Extension in Northeast Richland. At Cafe 21, customers purchased phone cards and then received credits to play poker, keno and blackjack games on desk top computers for chances to win cash.

Magistrate Michael Davis ruled Friday that the machines violated the state’s gambling laws, said Mark Powell, a spokesman for S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson. He originally ruled they were illegal during the raid but a lawyer for the cafe’s owner had challenged that first decision.

Cafe 21 was one of the first Internet sweepstakes cafes to open in Richland County.

-- Noelle Phillips

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