PokerNews' Haley Hintze reports today that a number of people busted in the Palmetto State's latest poker raid will be opting for a trial by jury.
A few weeks back, the
jack-booted thugs local constabulary cited 38 people for violation of our state's antiquated gambling law (yes, the one that makes it illegal to play even some board games on Sunday). Usually, the notion of taking a misdemeanor ticket in front of a jury is pretty silly. In South Carolina, however, it's pretty damned smart. Those people who didn't pay their tickets? Well, they may never see the inside of a courtroom.
It's been nearly three years since a raid on a neighborhood clubhouse in Greer, South Carolina resulted in the arrests of several friends of the Up For Poker blog. It was a small tournament in the middle of the afternoon and nothing much compared to what the poker scene eventually became here.
It's been nearly two years since we mentioned the case in a post on this blog and noted the fact one of our local attorneys was challenging the validity of our South Carolina gambling laws.
You know how far that case has progressed since then?
You guessed it. Nothing has happened.
The judge has refused to move the case along for trial and prosecutor has little to no interest in reminding everybody about the case. The law is broken, lawmakers (out of fear of being perceived as pro-gambling) won't fix it, and thus prosecutions become well-nigh impossible. Getting busted for gambling in South Carolina isn't all that bad. All you have to do is not pay the ticket and say, "Not guilty" and there is a reasonable chance you'll never have to worry about it again.
Of course, prosecutors in the Low Country are different than prosecutors in the Upstate and we may see the folks down there actually have to face a jury. After that, it's back to what we've discussed before--actually challenging the gambling law in the Supreme Court.
That's actually what lawmakers need and want. This year, the boys and girls at the Statehouse killed two gambling-related bills. Few people want their signatures to be seen on legislation that, in an upcoming election year, could be the fodder for a "State Senator X loves to gamble on South Carolina's family values" advert. Thus, despite the good intentions of a few lawmakers here, there is slim chance we'll ever see a decent reform of the gambling law. That means, in short, the South Carolina gambling law is a law in name only. As it is broken and antiquated, it can't be used in what normally would be a viable prosecution.
That could all change if the state Supreme Court was forced to look at the law. Suddenly, lawmakers would have a legal mandate to take an honest look at the law.
This is a weird place, South Carolina. There are many things about it that are forward-thinking and progressive. Underneath it all, though, there is still a foundation of unwavering conservative thought. In many cases, it's wrought with hypocrisy. It's hard for me to accept as a poker player that I'm allowed to run as bad at I do at Powerball but actually forbidden from running well at poker.
But, that's the Palmetto State for ya. Smiling faces, beautiful places, and not a legal poker room as far as the eye can see.
Thank goodness the gambling law is so messed up. Otherwise, we'd all be in jail.