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SC Gang Bill May Impact You and Charitable Groups

By FastFred

Senator Knots and others are aware of the growing youth gang problem in South Carolina. However the bills introduced this session to address youth gangs were perverted with amendments into a bill that exempted youthful offenders. A gang bill will be introduced in the next session and is expected to be passed in the not so distant future. The gang bill may have unintended consequences; due to past opinions rendered by South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster poker runs and raffles are considered illegal. Additionally South Carolina’s gang bill could impact you and your charitable organization. Raising money for the organization through illegal means is one of the metrics measured to determine if an organization is considered a gang under the proposed legislation.

Since raffles and poker runs are currently considered illegal many well meaning organizations could fall victim and experience enhanced penalties proposed by the gang bill in addition to current fines and sentences. Wednesday April 12th Mt Pleasant Police raided a private home and arrested 22 people present at a poker game. While less than $250 was in play the police confiscated over $5,000 from those present. Each player had bought $20 of chips to play; $20 is roughly the cost to take part in a poker run. I suspect law enforcement utilizing the above tactics could confiscate far more money from a poker run.

The Wednesday night game was not a high stakes game. However each player was fined $267; state law allows for a $100 fine and/or 30 days in jail. Additionally everyone arrested has a mandated court appearance. I suspect TV cameras will cover the court appearances to provide more embarrassment. Organizers face much higher fines and longer jail sentences; state law allows for a $2,000 fine and/or one year in jail. During this enforcement of state gambling laws fines only approached $7,000. However imagine if all the organizers of an average charity poker run were each arrested and fine over $2,000. Consider a small poker run of 50 riders and 5 organizers could net law enforcement over $20,000 in fines in addition to any confiscated funds.

You may be thinking this could never happen at a charity event. However these penalties could just as easily be applied to riders and organizers involved in charity poker runs. The current law has no provisions to allow any games for the benefit of charities or the needy. Additionally games of chance and skill are both illegal under Section 16-19-40 of the South Carolina Code of Law. However this is only the tip of the iceberg the future gang bill could also require the forfeiture of an organization's assets including meeting halls and enhanced penalties for members.

The good news is you help prevent this from happening by getting involved now. Legislative action is required to right this wrong. If the thought of getting involved turns you off please consider the wise words of Plato: “The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” If you don’t know where to start or how to impact the system please consider joining ABATE of SC. Your contribution will help us protect the rights of South Carolina Motorcyclists and provide you with an informative monthly newsletter. Together we can make a difference in South Carolina. Those working to help the less fortunate should be able to do so without risk of arrest and forfeiture of cash and property.

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