The State Senate of South Carolina heard arguments in the city of Greenville over whether to legalize home poker games and raffles. Yes, raffles are illegal in South Carolina, presumably along with the internet, cable television, and any device that emits artificially light. From the Greenville News:
Two changes have been proposed to the state’s gambling laws. One would make it legal to gamble at home while keeping it against the law to have gambling houses. The other calls for changing the state Constitution to allow nonprofit groups to hold raffles. The state commander of the American Legion said his group’s fundraising ability “has come to a complete halt” since it was told two years ago it couldn’t run raffles anymore.[…]
Other speakers, such as Stan McKinney, said the current law goes to extremes. He said he was arrested a year and a half ago in a friendly poker game and insisted on a trial. The magistrate, he said, told him the charge was too trivial for a trial and dismissed it.
G-Vegas has been a poker battleground for some time, as attested by the Greenville-based Up For Poker blog:
Last month I covered the trial of five people who were playing in a $20 max-buy no-limit hold’em game in Mt. Pleasant. The max rake on the game was 50 cents and the house owner, according to several people who testified, stopped taking rake the moment he had enough to cover the pizza and beer. The players were put on trial and, despite the magistrate’s obvious distaste for the law, convicted. [See the April issue of Bluff Magazine for my article on the trial.]
And then there’s the account of a recent home tournament, which is both hilarious and stomach-churning all at once:
We had 43 people from around the country in town and crowded into my small house. The buy-in was insignificant and I charged no juice. People from other states laughed at me when I took the buy-in cash to my neighbor’s house and left it there. They laughed harder when I programmed my police scanner to listen for a raid and put a couple friends outside to watch the door.
If I had watched myself that day, I might have laughed, too. It was ridiculous. It was a game among friends that wasn’t even charging for the BBQ and sweet tea. Still, if the raid on a similar game in Greer (a nearby suburb) a couple months before was any indication, I stood an uncomfortable chance of getting busted. It had happened to one of my friends just weeks before. He’d been playing in a similar game and had been handcuffed in front of his wife and kids.
To people in less-antiquated states, this probably seems inconceivable. The simple fact i this: playing any game with cards or dice in South Carolina (read: Monopoly, bridge, poker, etc) is illegal.
The South is stuck in the Stone Ages when it comes to a lot of things: they assume everyone still goes to church, they have zero grasp of sarcasm, and for some reason they all wear deck shoes whether they own a boat or not. But the SWAT team raids that police have been executing on the homes of people playing a game of cards is inexcusable. And horrifying. Think about that when you curl up with your Lubriderm and your stash of jpegs tonight. The next time you hear that banging on your door at night, it might be someone other than your mother telling you to get the hell out of the bathroom already.