The Richland County Council will again take up the issue of Internet sweepstakes cafes tonight at it regular meeting, after punting on the issue earlier this month.
Meanwhile, the city of Columbia has already effectively banned the allegedly illegal gaming parlors by refusing to issue such places business licenses, according to The State.
Earlier this month, the County Council considered such a route, After further study by County staff, the Council tonight will consider what if anything it can do about the issue.
The city based its decision not to issue any business licenses for the cafes based on legal rulings that the cafes were illegal. City Manager Steve Gantt told the newspaper he expects legal challenges on the city's position.
At the sweepstakes centers, customers buy phone cards or Internet time and are given credits to pay video poker or slots for a chance to win prizes. The operators argue that their business model is no different than a fast food restaurant giving game pieces to customers who buy food and drinks.
State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel, S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson and 5th Circuit Solicitor Dan Johnson have determined the games violate state law. But Gantt told the newspaper that the state legislature needed to weigh in and decide the issue, since none of the legal rulings are definitive.
Some on County Council argued earlier this month that denying business licenses to six pending businesses who otherwise might be running a legitimate business was too big a step to make without further study and consideration.
The Council will meet tonight to discuss the issue, , at 6 p.m. in Council chambers at 2020 Hampton St.