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    Controversial Internet gaming technology comes to South Carolina

    City of North Myrtle Beach Attorney Chris Noury is asking for the Attorney General to make a ruling on if the Hest system is actually legal. It has ears perked up all the way up to the State House. The North Myrtle Beach times has more information about how the system works and the history of video poker in South Carolina. Read that here.

    These companies are careful to call their games "online sweepstakes" and not computer gambling. The businesses that host these games call themselves "Internet Cafe" or "Sweepstakes Cafes". A quick peek at their Donate Zone website and there is no denying that their games look a lot like typical casino computer games. Browsing the Hest Technologies public Facebook page you can see a woman requesting more information on opening a sweepstakes game in Marion, South Carolina. Further down the Wall, it is clear they aggressively study the law for the states they support. It's probably safe to say they spend as much money on attorneys and lobbyists than they do computer programmers. 

    According to an article written by Richard Ducker of the UNC School of Government, online sweepstakes games brought a lot of grief to North Carolina for the past few years as lawmakers tried to amend gambling laws to include the sweepstakes style games without making other contests, such as those held by fast food restaurants, illegal. While the laws defining what was legal were debated, the gaming companies simply changed their systems to not fall under that new definition. After all of North Carolina's effort, the sweepstakes games are still legal. Some municipalities have taken to implementing special taxes and licenses for these businesses.

    North Carolina isn't the only state to wrestle with Internet sweepstakes cafes. One Florida State Representative, Peter Nehr, opened his own cafe in Palm Harbor. Ohio is also currently addressing the issue

    These gaming companies are prepared to fight back. If South Carolina rules these games illegal, it may spark a lengthy process that could cost a lot of time and money to carry out. Potentially much more if South Carolina lawmakers decide to fight these companies by changing the existing laws. Upcoming election season only spices the situation up even more.


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