Legislator wants to allow casinos in SC to raise revenue - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Legislator wants to allow casinos in SC to raise revenue for roads


Casinos in South Carolina will soon be a topic of discussion in the state legislature.

Rep. Todd Rutherford, D-Richland, said that he plans to propose a bill to allow for counties that already bring in big-time tourism to open upscale casinos. He said he doesn't care to gamble himself, but he said it's the best way to bring in all the revenue needed to fix state roads.

State Sen. Mike Fair, R-Greenville, doesn't think so at all. He wants Myrtle Beach to stay a destination for families and thinks that bringing casinos to the golden strip would bring sleazy activity.

"Side-effects of casino gambling, according to history, is prostitution and illegal gambling, higher drug usage," Fair said. "That's just not what South Carolina is, particularly the Grand Strand."

Rutherford said after an entire legislative session without a plan to fix the roads, it's time to get the ball rolling.

"If you don't want to play, don't play," said Rutherford. "I personally don't gamble, but I can tell you that Myrtle Beach is tailor-made for casino gambling. To allow it where we can use the revenue to pay for roads and bridges that are collapsing, that are in dire need of help, it's a no-brainer."

Fair said he was already disappointed with the decision to allow casino boats to dock along the coast and said the state should at least get more revenue from that.

He said a user fee by people who use the roads is the best way to get the funds fix them. On Tuesday, Gov. Nikki Haley said she plans to release a plan to fix the roads sometime next year.

"It's not the government's job to legislate morality," Fair said. "South Carolina already has a lottery; South Carolina already authorizes gambling."

Rutherford said licensing fees would be high enough that only upscale luxury casinos could set up shop. He said he hopes to drop the bill in December, so that it can be discussed at the beginning of 2015.

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