COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH, AP) -- Complaints about illegal video poker machines are prompting a crackdown by South Carolina's top law enforcement agency.
State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel says he's making the illegal machines a priority and plans to release details of the statewide initiative in about a month.
The Legislature decided to ban video poker in 2000 after a decade of debate. At the time, there were an estimated 29,000 machines scattered among thousands of sites.
According to Keel the machines are showing up again at hundreds of sites, such as convenience stores. He blames the economy for the resurgence.
Keel spoke to members of the media on Tuesday and hopes those with the illegal machines will listen up.
"If we have 200-300 locations with machines that are illegal and those 200-300 machines are taken out and rid of before we start the enforcement because of the fact that we're letting people know we are going to enforce it, that's 200-300 machines we don't have to deal with," Keel adds.More video poker news... Former deputy, son charged in SC video poker case 7 arrested in Lancaster County video poker sting Video poker machines seized from Kershaw Co. stores Newberry man busted running video poker house State Sen. Ford: Gambling could ease budget
The president of the state Association of Convenience Stores says the group supports the initiative. Kenneth Cosgrove says stores that have the illegal machines are taking business from honest retailers.
State Senator Robert Ford of Charleston has proposed making gambling legal again in South Carolina saying the machines and other forms of gambling could ease the state's budget problems.
Ford said video poker and other gambling could raise $700 million for the state.
The state operates a lottery that provides money for various education programs.
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(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)