Sit down in your favorite game and you will often hear God being called on, or even prayers being uttered at the table, especially if a big pot is in the works. What you probably don’t hear though, is your buddies saying, “Let’s go to church and play poker.”
But if you happen to live in the state of South Carolina, you may soon hear those exact words from your poker playing friends.
A Senate panel bill was recently passed in S.C. that would allow gambling, but only for charity. If the Governor signs this new legislation, churches and other non-profit organizations will be able to legally host card, dice and other casino style games. If the bill becomes law, all non-profit groups would be exempt from the 200 year old anti-gambling law. This could see the local neighborhood church becoming the place to go, to pray… and play.
The bill is specific that card games such as Texas Hold’em, seven card stud and five card draw should be allowed to be played in churches for charity. Unfortunately, the bill may be mucked when it is dealt to Governor Mark Sanford for approval. According to the Governor’s spokesman, Joel Sawyer, "The governor has a history of opposing any expansion of gambling for any purpose."
Although the centuries old anti-gambling law is rarely enforced, because of the recent surge in the popularity of poker, large cash game poker busts are on the rise across the state.
South Carolina State Senator Brad Hutto, commenting on the bill, said "It's a money making opportunity for nonprofits." He also added, “Non-profits stopped holding raffles after the state created its lottery and the South Carolina attorney general issued opinions saying the groups couldn't hold games of chance. They don't want to engage in illegal activities."
The November ballot will be the deciding factor as the bill goes before the S.C. voters; if passed, the limits on who would be allowed to hold raffles and how often they are held would then be set by legislators.