Plug Will Be Pulled on S.C. Slots

In what has been labeled the largest shutdown of legalized gambling in this country's history, the plug will be pulled on some 22,000 slot machines in South Carolina as of midnight Friday. According to the Associated Press, the shutdown of the gaming enterprise that peaked in June 1999 with 36,877 machines and generated $3 billion in annual revenue comes after operators failed last week to win a reprieve from the state Supreme Court.

South Carolina's slot machine industry has been under scrutiny in recent years and the shutdown is a result of efforts to curb the industry, according to the Associated Press. The state legislature voted last year to end slot machine gaming in the state as of July 1, unless voters approved a referendum last November. Prior to the referendum taking place, the state Supreme Court ruled the referendum was unconstitutional and let the legislative ban remain in effect.

Bill Thompson, a gaming professor at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, said the South Carolina shutdown will be the largest such action since Nevada closed its casinos and banned gambling in 1910.

While the slot machine operators have until July 8 to get the machines out of the state, the AP reported that some within the industry are planning to file litigation in an effort to keep the business going.