SC Senate says sweepstakes devices are illegal

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The state Senate has approved a bill specifying that sweepstakes machines are illegal gambling.

The Senate voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to further restrict video gambling by closing any loophole business owners cite to operate so-called sweepstakes cafes.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Larry Martin of Pickens says the bill clears up any ambiguity.

South Carolina banned video gambling in 2000. Police say the new machines violate that prohibition.

Supporters of the machines say they are like contests offered by stores and even McDonald's. They sell products such as long-distance phone cards, then offer customers a chance for prizes.

Judges have issued conflicting rulings on the legality.

Orangeburg Sen. Brad Hutto says it's hypocritical to ban the devices while the state markets the lottery.

The bill needs another vote before going to the House.

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