No one likes to lose at a casino. But the truth is, just as casinos produce big winners, not everyone walks away with a victory story. And Lauren Proctor of South Carolina definitely falls into the non-victory category after she lost $700,000 playing video poker in South Carolina.
Yes, we said $700,000. But here’s the interesting part. She didn’t lose the money at a South Carolina casino. She lost it at a restaurant. Now, I once lost my wallet at a South Carolina restaurant, but I’ve never lost $700,000. I couldn’t imagine losing that much after eating a slice of pie and a cup of coffee, but apparently betting at restaurants is a big deal.
South Carolina restaurants are home to video gambling machines. Instead of cozying up to a machine at a casino, simply walk to your local restaurant and pony up some money while you eat.
Sound fun, right? But here’s the craziest part about this story. Video poker machines are actually illegal in South Carolina. So the woman who lost $700,000 did so on machines that aren’t authorized in the state.
Here’s the backstory. Video gambling used to be quite popular in South Carolina, but in 2000, the state introduced legislation to ban the multi-billion dollar industry. Police have tried to crack down on the illegal machines, but once confiscated, new machines would pop up. Essentially the machines are always a step ahead of the authorities.
Between 1999 and 2005, Proctor lost between $1,000 and $5,000 per week. At the low end of the scale, we’re talking about $300,000 in a span of six years. But clearly Proctor wasn’t at the low end of the scale, hence her $700,000 loss.
So where does a South Carolina insurance company employee get $700,000? Probably not from her salary, that’s for sure. But she did manage to get the cash from her employer. She allegedly embezzled $700,000 from her employer, which she agreed to pay back in 2007 after pleading guilty to fraud.
This isn’t the end of the story though. Proctor is now suing the two establishments where she gambled — Roadway Athletic Club and Pizza Man. The State has upheld her right to sue and now the issue is before the courts.
But because Proctor gambled on machines that were actually illegal, this could get ugly.
We’ll keep our eyes on this one as it unfolds, with writers stationed in South Carolina. When they’re not watching the court proceedings, you’ll find them enjoying fine South Carolina hospitality at one of those restaurants. And they promise they won’t gamble. In the meantime, we’re pretty sure you can play video poker legally elsewhere…Oh look! We have video poker available!