Politicians in South Carolina have moved one step closer to making poker legal in the state. Many forms of gambling are currently prohibited by a 207-year old law which outlaws “any games with cards or dice.” This technically includes any number of family board games and benign card games. Although the law is often only used to apply to gambling issues there is no established procedure, and in the end its application is left to the discretion of specific law enforcement bodies.
Following the recent arrest and conviction of a group of South Carolina home game players, a new bill was introduced to address the outdated law. This new legislation was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday and is now up for discussion in the Senate. The new laws would allow for small-scale gambling in private homes as well as fundraising raffles and casino-nights.
Most importantly for poker players, if the laws are approved they will be free to participate and host home games as long as no profit is taken. “This is to separate the criminal gambler from a person who just wants to play cards with some friends,” said Senator Jake Knotts. Had this law been in place just a few months ago the group found guilty of illegal activity would not currently be facing such hefty fines.
The legislation would also allow for non-profit organizations to hold up to two ‘casino-night’ events a year, so long as at least 90% of the profits went to charity. Also, slot machines and games such as video poker would not be permitted. Fundraising raffles would also become legal, the state lottery being the only variety currently allowed.
However, it seems as though state residents will have to wait until next year before a final decision is reached. The current Congressional session ends in just 4 days, and most commentators believe that this just isn’t enough time for the bill’s fate to be decided.