that it wasn't a video poker machine. He further underlined in his ruling, "This order should not be interpreted by anyone as support for video poker in South Carolina."
His order said after a customer inserted paper money into the terminal's bill acceptor, the terminal printed out a discount coupon worth twice the inserted amount.
Play4Fun maintained, however, Saucony Black And White
"If we don't address this, either by way of a court ruling or by legislation, we'll have video poker back in every convenience store, on every corner in South Carolina very quickly," Martin said.
In his order, Garrett ruled that the sweepstakes machine, seized by the Greenville County Sheriff's Office, should be returned to its owner, identified in court records as Play4Fun Inc.
The customer could play one of eight "amusing games of chance" to reveal whether he or she had won anything or instantly see the results by selecting the "reveal instant winners" button, the order said.
"There is no doubt in my mind that these are nothing more than just a reconfigured video poker machine," Martin said. "They have very artfully attempted to do an end run on the video poker machine ban.
Garrett said the sweepstakes machine was legal and made the point Reebok Dance Trainers
Magistrate Charles Garrett said in his order that the promotion operated on a machine at a Taylors convenience store was legitimate and was an exception to other state prohibitions on gambling and games of chance.
Products Direct is a start up, e commerce company selling products exclusively on the Internet, according to court records, and doesn't have a "bricks and mortar storefront."In his order, Garrett cited five reasons the sweepstakes promotion and the machine comply with state law.
Andrew Mathias, an attorney for Play4Fun, said he was pleased with the ruling, but declined further comment.
Along with the purchase of a discount coupon, the customer received free entries into the sweepstakes, which was part of the terminal, the order said.
'Sweepstakes' ruling raises concerns about where state may be headed
Attorneys for Play4Fun told Garrett at a hearing in July that the machine was legal because it was a sweepstakes promotion for online retailer Products Direct. The Attorney General's Office, representing the Sheriff's Office, argued that games of chance were really what was for sale and that the machine violated state video gambling laws.
At issue was a state law regulating a wide range of activity in businesses that have permits to sell beer and wine. The law prohibits games of chance but provides an exception for sweepstakes in certain circumstances, including when they are part of a promotion.
hearing in March 2011. Court records show Garrett found state law likely would prohibit the machine but there was an exception.
After the machine was seized, Garrett held a Saucony X
Greenville County Sheriff Steve Loftis appealed to Circuit Court, which affirmed Garrett's ruling. The sheriff filed a motion to reconsider and the Circuit Court remanded the case back to Garrett "for further factual finding," the records show.
Garrett also said no purchase payment, entry fee or proof of purchase was required to enter the game promotion or receive a prize and the machine, the only material advertising the Products Direct promotion, "clearly discloses" that no purchase or payment was necessary to enter. The machine provided details about the free method of participation, the magistrate said.
The turn of events, though, has raised concerns about where the state may be headed with video gaming. And just the discussion revisited an issue that ushered in one of the most divisive political times in modern state political history.
A magistrate's order that a sweepstakes machine in Greenville County was legal has spawned fears that video poker is gaining a new toehold in South Carolina, and Saucony Redeemer opponents pledged to continue their fight against a return to video gambling in the state.
Court records show the Sheriff's Office and the attorney general maintained the sweepstakes machine was illegal under general prohibitions on video poker set forth in state law. The machine didn't meet the necessary requirements for an exception, attorneys argued.
The hearing came more than 12 years after the South Carolina Supreme Court pulled the plug on video poker an issue Garrett said he didn't intend to revisit. The question Garrett said he was considering was whether the games are allowed under the "sweepstakes exception."
that the machine satisfied all requirements of state law and the promotion on the machine was legitimate, court records show.
The customer then could go online to Products Direct's website and use the discount coupon toward the purchase price of a variety of products, subject to a maximum 30 percent discount, according to the order.
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