Bill on sweepstakes machines advances in SC House

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By Eric Weisfeld

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) _ A bill specifying that sweepstakes machines are illegal gambling is advancing in the South Carolina House.
The Judiciary Committee voted Tuesday to move the bill to the House floor. The Senate approved the measure last month.
The bill is designed to close any loophole business owners cite to operate so-called sweepstakes cafes.
State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel says the law would make it clear to local judges that the machines are illegal.
Magistrates have issued conflicting rulings on them.
South Carolina banned video gambling in 2000. Keel and other law enforcement officers say the new machines violate that prohibition.
Supporters of the machines liken them to contests offered by stores and even McDonald's. They sell products such as long-distance phone cards, then offer customers a chance for prizes.


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