Gaming machines found in stores

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Deputies, gaming task force seize 22 machines

By Greg Summers

The Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office, along with State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) Gaming Task Force agents, seized 22 illegal gaming devices, as well as computer servers, monitors, computer equipment and components from an Internet cafe (sweepstakes) operation that were being stored in an closed-down convenience store on Friday, June 28.

“I haven’t seen this many poker machines at one time in one place since they were running wide open,” said Lancaster County Sheriff Barry Faile.

The illegal gaming machines and equipment were being stored inside Lancaster Creamery and Grill, 1476 Memorial Park Road.

There is no power to the building and the devices were not being used. The store has been closed for a number of years.

Faile said deputies received an anonymous tip Monday, June 24, saying the devices were being stored inside the building.

“When we came over here and looked into the windows, we could see what we needed to see,” said sheriff’s office investigator Tony Bowers.

Based on that discovery, deputies were able to get a search warrant.

Faile said they also notified the S.C. Gaming Task Force, which assists law enforcement agencies in determining what gaming devices are legal and illegal. All the gaming devices seized were illegal.

Video poker was declared illegal in the state in 2001. In early 2013, the state Legislature close a perceived loophole regarding the legality of sweepstakes-type  machines, making them illegal as well.

That change is statute now allows authorities to charge anyone possessing or operating these gaming machines.

Paperwork was also found at the scene that Faile hopes will lead to the arrest of the owner(s).

According to state law, violators are guilty of a misdemeanor and could face fines of no more than $500, a maximum of one year in jail, or both.

“We still have a little more investigating to do. I like to think I won’t ever see another one,” Faile said of the machines.

“They are not going to be tolerated in Lancaster County.”

The state Gaming Task Force also assisted with gaming device seizures in Greenville, Lexington and Horry counties last week.

“It’s a cooperative effort that involves everyone from the person who provided the information,” Faile said. “That’s what it takes.”