South Carolina moved a step closer to getting in step with the modern gambling world last week when a state Senate sub-committee approved three new bills, progressing them forward to the full House Judiciary Committee by a vote of 3 to 1. The bills seek to update antiquated and probitionist laws regarding raffles and card and dice games.
Celebration may be premature, however, as the bills still have a long road to travel before a full Senate vote is likely, and the current session is running out of time.
"Right now, it's against the law for a Monopoly game to be held in your own kitchen with your kids," Senator Paul Campbell told local newspaper the Post and Courier. "We don't want to make criminals out of common, ordinary citizens. If we can simplify [the laws] and yet prevent organized gambling from getting a hold in South Carolina, then I think it makes a lot of sense."
Senate leader Glenn McConnell, a Charleston Republican, crafted the bills in a bid to bring 200-year-old state gaming laws into the 21st century. His proposals attempt to make social gambling, such as poker games among friends and church raffles, legal while continuing to outlaw slot machines and video poker, among other forms of gambling.
McConnell's efforts follow a Mount Pleasant poker raid in April 2006 when five men were ticketed for playing Texas Hold 'em. They were found guilty recently and have appealed the convictions.
The sub-committee action in progressing the McConnell bills follows two public hearings on the matter, where public support for the updates was voiced.
Republican Senator Phillip Shoopman, was the sole oppontent to forwarding the bills on to the full Judiciary Committee, saying his constituency is concerned the legalization will lead to an eventual entry point for video poker.
"I don't think it's as crystal clear as the people who support the legalization have presented," Shoopman said.
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