SC Bill Passes Senate

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George Smart

Feb 18, 2008, 7:26:24 AM2/18/08

Church Poker Approved by South Carolina Senate

Mon, Feb 18th, 2008 @ 12:00am

The South Carolina USA state Senate approved legislation last Thursday allowing churches and other nonprofit groups to raise money by hosting poker and other casino games, exempting them from South Carolina's 200-year-old law that prohibits dice and card games.

So under the bill, it would still not be legal to get together with friends for a night of poker, but you could play Texas Hold 'em, five-card draw, or seven-card stud at church, as the bill specifically mentions these forms of poker can be used to raise money for charity.

"If it raises money for a charitable cause, then I don't have a problem with it at all," said Sen. Paul Campbell, R-Goose Creek, who serves on the subcommittee that gave the bill a favorable report Thursday. Campbell said none of the members spoke against the proposal.

The law that currently bans the games is rarely enforced, but, according to an article in The Post and Courier, it has stopped plans for several charitable gambling events in the Charleston area in recent years.


Despite poker's popularity, not all church staff would jump at the chance to host a poker fund-raising event, even if it were legal.

"I am totally against it. That is not the biblical way of providing for a ministry," the Rev. Stephen Singleton, pastor of Emanuel AME Church on Calhoun Street in Charleston was quoted as saying in The Post and Courier.

"Under no circumstances do I have a problem with the church soliciting funds, but when we go to games of chance, we become a casino," Singleton added.

Additionally, Pastor Leonard Griffin of Morris Street Baptist Church in Charleston said, "I saw the news, and it shocked me to think that games of chance would be allowed at the church. That's not something we endorse."

The bill is set for further discussion during the next full Judiciary Committee meeting, which is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 26.


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