BCSO: No gambling machines in Berkeley County

BERKELEY, S.C. (WCIV) -- The Berkeley County Sheriff's Office has put sweepstakes parlors on notice.

In a statement released Thursday, BCSO spokesperson Dan Moon said "any and all gambling and gaming machines are illegal" and must be removed immediately by order of Berkeley County Sheriff H. Wayne DeWitt.

"It is a crime to gamble or possess gaming machines in South Carolina," Sheriff DeWitt said.{} "I'm giving a two week notice as of today to anyone in Berkeley County who has these machines, whether stand-alone machines or networked systems, to remove them from your premises or face the risk of criminal and civil prosecution."

Sheriff DeWitt said his office will coordinate efforts with state authorities.

"We will be working closely with the State Law Enforcement Division and the South Carolina Attorney General's office to locate these machines, seize them, seek their destruction, and to charge anyone possessing or operating these gaming machines," he said.{} "There are numerous rulings in support of the law which are clear."

Last October, deputies with the Charleston County Sheriff's Office arrested a Goose Creek woman for illegal gaming after authorities found dozens of gambling computers at two businesses.

In April of 2011, a former Berkeley County deputy and his son were arrested and charged with unlawful games and betting, unlawful gaming tables and the unlawful keeping of gaming machines.

Another bust was made in Beaufort in September 2011, and just last month those machines were ordered destroyed.

Also last month, a 73-year-old woman was arrested for running a gambling operation from her Columbia home.

Sheriff DeWitt said Section 12-21-2710 of the S.C. Code of Laws outlines the types of machines and devices prohibited by law.{}

SECTION 12-21-2710{}{} Types of machines and devices prohibited by law; penalties.


It is unlawful for any person to keep on his premises or operate or permit to be kept on his premises or operated within the State any vending or slot machine, or any video game machine with a free play feature operated by a slot in which is deposited a coin or thing of value for the play of poker, blackjack, keno, lotto, bingo, or craps, or any machines licensed pursuant to Section 12-21-2720 and used for gambling or any punch board, pull board, or other device pertaining to games of chance of whatever name or kind, including those machines, boards or other devices that display different pictures, words, or symbols, at different plays or different numbers, whether in words or figures or, which deposit tokens or coins at regular intervals or in varying numbers to the player or in the machine, but the provisions of this section do not extend to coin-operated nonpayout pin tables, in-line pin games, or to automatic weighing, measuring, musical, and vending machines which are constructed as to give a certain uniform and fair return in value for each coin deposited and in which there is no element of chance.


Any person violating the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned for a period of not more than one year, or both.

"The law is clear and there are no loopholes," he said.{} "There have been over 1,200 of these machines seized around the state.{} If we find any in Berkeley County, they will be taken and those numbers will be added to the statewide total."

Anyone with information about these types of machines in Berkeley County are encouraged to contact the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office at (843) 719-4412 or (843) 719-4424.