Spartanburg votes on Internet sweepstakes machines - FOX Carolina 21

Spartanburg votes on Internet sweepstakes machines

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Some video sweepstakes and gaming machines are legal in South Carolina. (File/FOX Carolina) Some video sweepstakes and gaming machines are legal in South Carolina. (File/FOX Carolina)

The clock is ticking on an emergency ban the Spartanburg City Council placed on Internet sweepstakes cafes this spring, and the council may be getting close to a decision.

The cafes host video gaming machines that award users entry into a sweepstakes for a fee. The machines prompted a lot of people to question if they should be considered gambling.

With Monday night's vote, the city may be moving toward allowing the video machines but with strict regulations on who can play them and where.

The city zoning commission created a list of recommendations the City Council voted on Monday. The regulations include keeping the games away from schools and churches, and only allowing those over the age of 18 to play.

The City Council voted unanimously in favor of those recommendations.

Spartanburg city attorney Cathy McCabe said sweepstakes cafes are a "new beast" in the community, and the city is being cautious about how it proceeds.

"These are gambling wannabes, they are very similar to gambling," said McCabe. "Their legality has to be determined on a case-by-case basis."

Police began taking some machines out of several businesses this spring after the city called an emergency ban. McCabe said most of those particular machines won't be coming back.

"As far as I know, all of those machines taken out were found to be illegal that have gone to court," said McCabe. "However, there are still cases pending that I cannot speak to."

If the court did find a particular sweepstakes machine to be legal, the city wants to be ready.

On Monday they voted legal machines should only be placed in industrial zones of the city. They also voted in favor of prohibiting alcohol at an Internet cafe.

FOX Carolina spoke to some in downtown Spartanburg who said the regulations seem fair.

"Even if it's something people do as a hobby or just to have fun, it's probably something we can do without," said Spencer LeGrand.

The city will now do a second reading of the regulations and they'll vote again. If passed, the recommendations will go into effect immediately.

The vote will take place at the Sept. 24 City Council meeting.

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