South Carolina has been historically opposed to all forms of gambling, with laws dating back over two centuries outlawing any and all forms of gambling, including poker. However, in the wake of a recent court case declaring poker a game of skill, the state’s stance appears to be softening. Glen McConnell (R-Charleston), South Carolina Senate President Pro Tempore, has introduced a bill proposing the legalization of poker home games.
The archaic laws, which currently restrict the playing of any live poker in the state, read literally forbid “any game with cards or dice.” In practice the definition is restricted to games of chance, but times are changing and McConnell believes that “ [The] government has no business micromanaging people’s lives and the choice they make on the games that entertain them.”
In addition to small home games McConnell is also looking to craft an exemption for charity poker tournaments. Events organized to raise money for good causes are a proven method of combating the fall in donations that has accompanied the economic crisis. These “casino style” events would be allowed to take place on the condition that their duration is limited and that slot machines or sports betting are not used to generate funds.
There are similar restrictions placed upon the potentially legalized home games. Casual games among groups of friends would be permitted under the condition that “no house player, house bank or house odds exist, and where there is no house income from the operation of the game.”
Although McConnell holds a position of some authority as the head of the state Judiciary Committee, the bill is likely to come up against a number of stumbling blocks. A similar proposal did not even make it through committee two years ago. Nevertheless, this marks a change in the way poker is viewed in America, with the emphasis more on skill than on luck.