There’s a not-so-secret effort underway in the Palmetto state to bring back video poker. In fact, it’s part of a broader debate on gambling that commenced this week when the S.C. Senate took up legislation that would legalize church raffles.

We’ve written extensively about the various camps involved in this gambling debate … but we have yet to determine our opinion on the issue, except to say that we reject the unilateral opposition to gambling staked out by the Baptists.

On the one hand, we see the potential for some form of gambling expansion to create thousands of new jobs in South Carolina (video poker would create 40,000 of them, according to S.C. Sen. Robert Ford) … however we’re not wild about giving state government that much extra revenue to play with.

More importantly, we’re not sold on the argument that this projected mountain of new revenue comes without its costs. Problem and pathological gamblers are expensive … and we’re leery of the unintended consequences of simply lifting the video poker ban.

Video poker machines were outlawed in 2000 when the S.C. Supreme Court blocked a referendum that would have given Palmetto State residents the right to vote on their legality. We disagree with that decision (voters should have been allowed to make that call), but anybody who thinks the machines are “out of commission” is fooling themselves.

In fact, sources tell FITS that “numerous” video poker machines are currently in operation in different parts of Lexington County, S.C. – where they are evading detection by law enforcement officials.

That’s nothing new … in fact, we’re sure the same thing can be said of most South Carolina counties. Agents of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) have seized thousands of video poker machines since the ban went into effect ten years ago – and we’re sure they will seize thousands more as long as the ban continues.

As the gambling debate in South Carolina progresses, we’re going to continue examining the data in the hopes of reaching a decision on what we believe to be in the best interest of the state.

In the meantime, what do you think?

Vote in our poll and then share your thoughts in our comments section below …

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