Video poker to be issue in 2010

Making video poker machines legal again in South Carolina will be the centerpiece of the platform of State Sen. Robert Ford, who announced he will seek the Democratic nomination to run for governor in 2010.

Ford told the Charleston Post and Courier that South Carolina needs a new source of revenue to cover the $500 million budget shortfall so that basic services can continue to be provided without raising taxes on ordinary citizens. Legalizing and then taxing proceeds generated by video poker machines would be the least painful way to raise these revenues for most people, he said.

Video poker has been illegal in South Carolina since the state Supreme Court ruled in late 1999 that the method by which they were legalized in 1986 (a last minute amendment tucked into a huge budget bill) to be unconstitutional. To legalize video poker this time, Ford said he would push for a voter referendum to amend the state constitution after he is elected. Subsequent legislation would set up regulations as to where the machines could be located and operated.