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South Carolina Bill Narrowly Approved

12 May 2005

COLUMBIA, South Carolina – As reported by the Myrtle Beach Sun News: "Sparks flew between two Horry County lawmakers as the House narrowly approved a bill that would let local governments ban or regulate casino boats.

"The bill passed 64-52, though the House has passed it 93-0 and 79-21 in previous years. Passage came on second reading. Third reading is a formality that is scheduled for today.

"Casino boats have been controversial along the Grand Strand since several arrived in 1999 in Little River, and several owners have unsuccessfully tried to establish others in Georgetown County.

"Horry County's members also have solidly supported a ban on casino boats in the past, but on Wednesday Rep. Thad Viers, R-Myrtle Beach, rose to defend the vessels.

"…He crossed swords with Rep. Tracy Edge, R-North Myrtle Beach, who has wanted to ban the boats since their arrival in Little River.

"The boats can operate gambling cruises offshore under federal law unless the state bans them. The state has failed to pass a ban because of Senate opposition, so the latest proposal is for the state to delegate its powers to the local governments.

"…The Viers-Edge exchange was a comparatively small part of the casino-boat debate, which lasted more than an hour and a half.

"…The Senate's bill is awaiting third reading under a threat of a filibuster by Sen. Robert Ford, D-Charleston, who is a frequent casino-boat patron."

 
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