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Panel to hear from public on gaming laws

Currently, raffling and gaming in South Carolina are both illegal. Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell wants to change that. Tonight, McConnell and his appointed special Senate Judiciary subcommittee will host a public hearing at the North Charleston City Hall.

What it would do it would allow, for instance, the way we have the statute worded, it would allow a non-profit to have a casino night. We have the percentage, I think 80 or 90 percent of the money has to go to the charity. It doesn’t allow organized gambling for profit to come to South Carolina, it doesn’t bring casinos, it doesn’t bring video poker, but it does allow organized charity to have casino nights.

McConnell’s legislation was put on hold by both the House and the Senate last session, but now the Charleston senator wants the public to weigh in. He says it doesn’t make sense how a church cannot simply raffle a personal item for money to go on a missions trip.

We’ve got to get out of the business trying to micro-manage people’s lives. It’s harmless, it doesn’t hurt anybody, it raises money for a good cause, and it ought to be allowed in the public. All we are doing is saying let the public vote on it, it’s a constitutional amendment. If the public doesn’t want it, they’ll reject it, but it’s going on all over the state right now.

McConnell says there are two issues at hand: raffling for non-profits and the gaming statute in the state. These hearings allow simply a chance for the public to let the panel know what their insight is into the state’s gaming laws.

Right now games of chance, according to the attorney general, are illegal unless the state is running them, and that is the South Carolina Education Lottery. This constitutional amendment would give you the public the right to vote on whether or not to amend the constitution to allow non-profits, under limited circumstances, to run raffles.

McConnell and the Senate Judiciary subcommittee plan public hearings in Rock Hill, Greenville and Florence at later dates.

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