Chalk another one up for our  network of sources …

In filing a report on video poker last January, we made this note:

… 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.

Well guess what … it looks as though there’s a good reason these machines have been evading detection.  The reason?  There’s been precious little”detecting” going on.  In fact, according to a feature story published in this week’s editions of The (Columbia, S.C.) Free Times, the political and law enforcement establishment in Lexington County has actually been running the games.

In the Free Times story – filed by reporter Corey Hutchins – it is alleged that Lexington, S.C. councilman and Lexington County Sheriff’s Department (LCSD) employee Danny Frazier has been “overseeing a network of sweepstakes cafés and back-room video poker parlors.”

As proof, the paper has obtained voice recordings in which Frazier – who is no stranger to corruption – allegedly reveals that he has Lexington County law enforcement on “lockdown” when it comes to his operation – in addition to having friends in the S.C. State Senate (presumably Sen. Jakie Knotts) that are “in his debt” and looking out for his interests.

“All them son-of-a-bitches that stay pretty and clean up there, the only reason they stay pretty and clean is because I do their dirty work for their ass,” an individual alleged to be Frazier says in one of the recordings. “Trust me. I got balls to do it.”

Damn …

According to the paper, copies of these audio recordings have been turned over to “law enforcement.”

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), and we have been consistent in supporting the expansion of gaming in South Carolina.

Our reason?  State government – which runs the so-called “education” lottery – shouldn’t have a monopoly on this industry.  Hell, it shouldn’t even be participating in this industry.  Doing so is not only hypocritical, but it is depriving our state of tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in investment.  Not only that, it is ignoring the  opportunity to turn our “tourism coast” into something truly transformative.

We have yet to come out in favor of video poker – in our opinion it’s the least desirable form of expanding gaming – although we do believe that our support for all of the other proposals that are out there (casinos on the coast, etc.) requires us to be consistent.

Having said that, until such time as the S.C. General Assembly authorizes expanded gaming, individuals that seek to operate and profit off of the industry are doing so in violation of the law – which we’re not criticizing, although it does make them subject to our state’s “enforcement” of that law.

Or, in the case of Lexington County, not so much …

“STACKING THE DECK” (The Free Times)