South Carolina              
Administrative Law Court
Edgar A. Brown building 1205 Pendleton St., Suite 224 Columbia, SC 29201 Voice: (803) 734-0550

SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

CAPTION:
SCDOR vs. Coastal Coin, Inc. and Mid-South, Inc.

AGENCY:
South Carolina Department of Revenue

PARTIES:
Petitioners:
South Carolina Department of Revenue

Respondents:
Coastal Coin, Inc. and Mid-South, Inc.
 
DOCKET NUMBER:
98-ALJ-17-0469-CC

APPEARANCES:
Petitioner & Representative: South Carolina Department of Revenue, Carol I. McMahan

Respondents & Representative: Coastal Coin, Inc. and Mid-South, Inc., H. Buck Cutts
 

ORDERS:

FINAL ORDER AND DECISION

I. Statement of the Case



The South Carolina Department of Revenue (DOR) seeks to impose $10,000 in fines ($5,000 each) against Coastal Coin, Inc. and Mid-South, Inc. due to an alleged violation of the five machine limit imposed by S.C. Code Ann. § 12-21-2804(A) (Supp. 1998). Further, DOR seeks the revocation of forty Class III machine licenses and the prohibition on the use of any Class III licenses at the location for a period of six months. Coastal Coin, Inc, as the machine owner, and Mid-South, Inc., as the location owner, admit that a violation occurred, but oppose DOR's position on the appropriate penalty.



This disagreement placed jurisdiction in the Administrative Law Judge Division (ALJD). S.C. Code Ann. §§ 12-60-1310, 12-60-1320, 1-23-600 (Supp. 1998) with the hearing in this matter held at the Georgetown County Courthouse in Georgetown, South Carolina. Based upon the evidence and the argument presented by the parties, a fine of $5,000 is imposed against Coastal Coin, Inc. (Coastal) and a fine of $5,000 is imposed against Mid-South, Inc. (Mid-South). The forty Class III machine licenses held by Coastal Coin, Inc. are revoked effective as of the date of this order and those machines shall not be licensed for a period of six months from the date of this order. Finally, Coastal Coin, Inc. shall provide DOR with the serial numbers of the forty machines involved in this matter so that DOR may adequately enforce the six month non-licensure period.





II. Issues



1. Given that a violation of the five machine limit of § 12-21-2804(A) occurred, are Coastal and Mid-South denied the use of any Class III machines at the location for a period of six months from the time the revocation becomes final or are Coastal and Mid-South denied the privilege of using the forty machines for a period of six months from the time the revocation becomes final?(1)



2. Given that a violation of the five machine limit of § 12-21-2804(A) occurred, is a revocation of Coastal's licenses proper now after all of the licenses have expired?



3. What is the appropriate amount of fine to be imposed on Mid-South and Coastal for the violation?

III. Analysis



A. Six Month Prohibition



1. Positions of Parties



DOR asserts that the statute requires a prohibition on the use of any Class III machines at the location for a period of six months from the time the revocation becomes final. Coastal and Mid-South argue that if a revocation is applied, no six month penalty should be imposed on the location, but rather only on the machines in use at the time of the violation. Coastal and Mid-South also argue that DOR's interpretation of the six month prohibition as applying to the location violates the due process clause of the United States Constitution and the South Carolina Constitution, in that the Respondents were not placed on notice that such a penalty is required by the statute.



2. Findings of Fact



Based on the preponderance of the evidence, the following findings of fact are entered:



Coastal placed forty-four Class III machines in eleven game rooms located at 1300 Surfside Ind. Park, Surfside Beach, SC. At the time of the inspection on May 8, 1997, Mid-South operated the location housing the forty-four machines and held retail licenses issued by DOR pursuant to Chapter 36 of Title 12 of the S.C. Code. At the time of the inspection, all eleven game rooms were licensed establishments. At the time of the inspection, ten of the eleven game rooms were in violation of § 12-21-2804(A). Thus, DOR seeks the revocation of licenses for the forty machines in those rooms.

Judicial notice is taken of the published decisions of the Administrative Law Judge Division and of the numerous instances in which DOR has argued before the Division that S.C. Code Ann. § 12-21-2804(A) imposes a six month prohibition on the use of any Class III machine at the offending location. However, judicial notice is also taken of the extensive opposition to DOR's view. In hearings before the Division, license holders routinely and repeatedly object to DOR's position.



3. Conclusions of Law



Based upon the above Findings of Fact, I conclude as a matter of law, the following:



A. Prohibition Applicable to Machines or to Location



1. Introduction



The following language of § 12-21-2804 is in issue:



No license may be issued for a machine in an establishment in which a license has been revoked for a period of six months from the date of the revocation.



This language has produced two interpretations. DOR's interpretation is that once a license for a Class III machine in a location is revoked, the location is prohibited from having any Class III machines on its premises for a period of six months from the date of the revocation. This view is the "dead location" interpretation. Coastal's interpretation is that once the location has a revocation of a Class III machine license, the machines within the establishment (but not the establishment itself) are prohibited from being re-licensed as Class III machines for a period of six months from the date of the revocation. This view is the "dead machines" interpretation. Considering the plain language of the statute and applying the legislative intent as gleaned from applicable factors, the six month prohibition applies to the machines involved and not to the location involved.



2. Legislative Intent



Courts do not legislate. Rather, when asked to interpret the meaning of a statute, the task is solely that of seeking to effectuate the legislature's intent. Laird v. Nationwide Ins. Co., 243 S.C. 388, 134 S.E.2d 206 (1964). In deciding legislative intent, the first and most basic inquiry is whether the language of the statute is plain and unambiguous and whether the statute conveys a clear and definite meaning. If the answer is yes, no occasion exists for employing rules of statutory interpretation, and the court has no right to look for or impose another meaning. Paschal v. State Election Comm'n, 317 S.C. 434, 454 S.E.2d 890 (1995).



However, where an ambiguity prevents the statute from conveying a clear and definite meaning, the court must find the legislative intent through statutory construction. See Abell v. Bell, 229 S.C. 1, 91 S.E.2d 548 (1956) ("But where the language of the statute gives rise to doubt or uncertainty as to the legislative intent, the search for that intent may range beyond the borders of the statute itself; for it must be gathered from a reading of the statute as a whole in the light of the circumstances and conditions existing at the time of its enactment.") An ambiguity arises when the meaning of the language is doubtful or provides "doubleness of meaning." Chapman v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 172 S.C. 250, 173 S.E. 801, 803 (1934); see also Southeastern Fire Ins. Co. v. S.C. Tax Comm'n, 253 S.C. 407, 171 S.E.2d 355 (1969) (language is ambiguous when it is capable of being understood by reasonably well-informed persons in either of two or more senses.).



Here, I am not convinced that the language is devoid of a clear and definite meaning. A plain and unforced reading requires a dead machine result and does not support a dead location result. However, even if the statute creates an ambiguity, an inquiry into statutory construction still leads me to conclude that the legislature imposed a six month prohibition on the machines and not on the location.



a. Plain Meaning



The plain meaning of a statute is best determined by reading the statute as a whole so that phraseology of an isolated section is not controlling. City of Columbia v. Niagara Fire Insurance Company, 249 S.C. 388, 154 S.E.2d 674 (1967). When read as a whole, S.C. Code Ann. § 12-21-2804(A) states that DOR is required to "revoke the licenses of machines located in an establishment which fails to meet the requirements of [§ 12-21-2804]." Under that language, a failure to satisfy the five machine limit causes a revocation of all of the machine licenses in the establishment that failed to meet the test. As a result of that violation, an establishment becomes filled with unlicensed machines.



In fact, that is precisely what has happened in this case. Coastal's forty machines effectively became unlicensed, and those unlicensed machines were incapable of being lawfully operated until new licenses were issued. See S.C. Code Ann. § 12-21-2776 (Supp. 1998) (all machines must be licensed). This factual and legal background supplies the proper context for an unforced reading of the plain language of the six month prohibition.



Following the statutory language revoking the machine licenses in the offending establishment, the statute immediately and succinctly states "[n]o license may be issued for a machine in an establishment in which a license has been revoked for a period of six months from the date of the revocation." In other words, the specific machines that lost their licenses due to the revocation are prohibited from receiving a new machine license until a six month period has elapsed.



When relying upon the plain meaning of words in a statute, the words must be applied without resorting to a subtle or forced construction to limit or expand the statute's operation. Stephen v. Avins Constr. Co., 324 S.C. 334, 478 S.E.2d 74 (Ct. App. 1996). The interpretation expressed above provides a plain, unforced reading that answers an obvious need raised by the revocation language. Obviously, to make the revocation meaningful, a fixed period is needed. Otherwise, the owner would be able to acquire a new license the same day as the revocation and begin operating the same machine almost immediately. In my view, the six month period simply tells the owner that the machine is dead for six months and serves to give teeth to the revocation of the machine license.(2)



In contrast to the plain reading of the language that supports the dead machine interpretation, a reading giving a dead location requires a forced construction. For example, to impose a six month limitation on the location requires reading additional language into the statute so that the statute states "no license may be issued for a machine TO BE PLACED in an establishment in which a license has been revoked for a period of six months from the date of the revocation." (Capitalized words added). Obviously, a court may not add words to a statute but can only apply the statutory language given by the General Assembly. Banks v. Columbia Ry., Gas & Electric Co., 113 S.C. 99, 101 S.E. 285 (1919).



Accordingly, § 12-21-2804(A) imposes a six month prohibition on the issuance of licenses for those Class III machines that were in an establishment at the time a license for a machine in that establishment was revoked. No prohibition is imposed on the location itself.



b. Statutory Construction



While I believe a plain reading requires a dead machine interpretation, even if resort to statutory construction is required, such an inquiry does not support a dead location view.



A commonly applied rule of statutory construction is that where the same words are used in an enactment more than once, it is presumed the words have the same meaning throughout unless a different meaning is necessary to avoid an absurd result. Busby v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 280 S.C. 330, 312 S.E.2d 716 (Ct. App. 1984). Likewise, when the legislative body defines a term, the use of that term in the enactment must be interpreted as having the defined meaning. Windham v. Pace, 192 S.C. 271, 6 S.E.2d 270 (1939).



In the Video Game Machines Act (Act), Class III machines must be licensed under Article 19 before placement or operation on the premises of a "licensed establishment." S.C. Code Ann. § 12-21-2778 (Supp. 1998). The legislature defined "licensed establishment" as an "establishment owned or managed by a person who is licensed pursuant to Article 19 of this chapter for the location of coin-operated nonpayout video machines with a free play feature." S.C. Code Ann. § 12-21-2772(4) (Supp. 1998). To impose a location penalty, the legislature could simply have stated the establishment may not be a licensed establishment for six months. No such statement was made.



Additionally, Article 20 imposes a further license beyond the establishment license required by Article 19. Specifically, Article 20 requires a location license since "[e]ach . . . licensed establishment must be licensed by [DOR] pursuant to Article 19 of this chapter and this article before a machine . . . is placed for public use in this State."(3) S.C. Code Ann. § 12-21-2784 (Supp. 1998) (emphasis added). The location license of Article 20 is identified as an "establishment license for machine placement." S.C. Code Ann. § 12-21-2788 (Supp. 1998). In fact, DOR is required to revoke "an establishment license for machine placement" when the placement of machines does not meet "the provisions of Article 19 of this chapter and the [corresponding] rules and regulations promulgated by [DOR]." Id.; S.C. Code Ann. § 12-21-2786 (Supp. 1998). (4) Again, the General Assembly could have easily penalized the location by revoking the establishment license for machine placement.



Finally, the location may not house Class III machines "unless the location is licensed pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 36 of Title 12." S.C. Code Ann. § 12-21-2703 (Supp. 1998). Again, the General Assembly could have directed that the retail license be revoked if it wished to close the location for six months. It did not so direct.



Accordingly, at least three areas of location or establishment licenses are available for revocation. Despite these location licenses, § 12-21-2804(A) directs the revocation of only "licenses of machines" and not location licenses. These statutes demonstrate that the General Assembly was cognizant of the difference between a license for a machine and a license involving an establishment or location. Being aware of the difference, the statutory language of § 12-21-2804(A) provided for the revocation of the licenses for the machines and made no mention of revocation of an establishment license.



Such a conclusion is consistent with a plain and unforced reading of the statute which shows a symmetry between the revocation of the machine licenses and the six month prohibition on re-licensing the affected machines. The symmetry is broken by the dead location view since the revocation of a machine license produces an unsymmetrical location closure. Had the General Assembly meant to revoke the establishment or location license it could have easily done so by specifying the revocation of a specific establishment license. Accordingly, the normal rules of statutory construction support the dead machine interpretation.



c. Deference To Agency



DOR argues its position should be followed since it is the agency charged with administering the video games law. DOR believes the facts are well established that it has consistently applied its interpretation of S.C. Code Ann. § 12-21-2804(A) (Supp. 1998). Further, under such circumstances, DOR believes that its position is reasonable and should be accorded great deference. Finally, in deciding whether to deviate from DOR's position, DOR asserts compelling reasons must be established. In significant part, I disagree with DOR's analysis as it relates to the weight to be accorded that agency's interpretation of S.C. Code Ann. § 12-21-2804(A) (Supp. 1998).



i. Consistently Applied Position



No doubt exists that DOR has consistently applied its position. Judicial notice is taken of the published decisions of the Administrative Law Judge Division and of the numerous instances in which DOR has advanced its position in hearings before the Division. DOR has consistently viewed S.C. Code Ann. § 12-21-2804(A) as imposing a six month prohibition on the use of any Class III machine at the offending location.



However, judicial notice is also taken of the extensive opposition to DOR's view. In hearings before the Division, license holders routinely and repeatedly object to DOR's position. The validity of that position is now pending in the S.C. Supreme Court in the case of Gateway Enterprise, Inc., v. DOR. Thus, the position of DOR is not one which has found routine acceptance by the affected public. On the contrary, DOR's position is far from a settled view.



ii. Deference To DOR's Position



The issue in interpreting a statute is what did the legislature intend. Laird v. Nationwide Ins. Co., 243 S.C. 388, 134 S.E.2d 206 (1964). Depending upon the nature of the language under review, an agency's view may or may not be entitled to deference.



-- Plain Meaning



No deference to an agency's position is warranted where the language presents a clear meaning. Glens Falls Insurance Co. v. City of Columbia, 242 S.C. 237, 130 S.E.2d 573 (1963) (no occasion arises for considering an agency's position where the language of the statute is plain and unambiguous and conveys a clear and definite meaning). Further, of particular significance to this case, the clear and definite meaning will always be applied despite an agency's contrary but consistently followed position. Davidson v. Eastern Fire & Cas. Ins. Co., 245 S.C. 472, 141 S.E.2d 135 (1965) ("An uninsured motorist endorsement that contravenes the requirements of the statute is, to that extent, invalid, regardless of the Department's approval of it.").



Here, the statute in dispute is plain and unambiguous. The plain language of § 12-21-2804(A) imposes a six month prohibition on the issuance of licenses for those Class III machines that were in an establishment at the time a license for a machine in that establishment was revoked. Thus, having found that the plain meaning of the statute establishes legislative intent, no deference to DOR's position is required.



-- Ambiguous Meaning



However, even if an ambiguity were found in the statute, a resort to rules of construction supports the view that the revocation affects the machines but not the location. In examining the rules of statutory construction, deference to DOR's view is not a meaningful indicator of legislative intent when compared to other more significant indicators.



When required to apply the rules of construction, the construction of a statute by an agency charged with administering that statute is entitled to most respectful consideration. Stephenson Finance Co. v. South Carolina Tax Comm'n, 242 S.C. 98, 130 S.E.2d 72 (1963). More particularly, however, the degree of respect rises to one of "great weight" only if the agency position "has been acquiesced in by the [Legislature] for a long period of time." Etiwan Fertilizer Co. v. South Carolina Tax Comm'n, 217 S.C. 354, 60 S.E.2d 682 (1950).



Here, the Video Game Machines Act became effective July 1, 1993. Thus, even assuming DOR's position was announced, enforced or in some way made known to the Legislature from the first day the statute became effective, DOR's position is six years old. Such a time frame is far too short to amount to a showing of acquiescence "by the Legislature for a long period of time." Id. Hence, the short period does not show strong evidence of acquiescence by the Legislature and does not allow "great weight" to be accorded to DOR's position. Such is especially so where the agency position is challenged repeatedly by the affected public. At best, only respectful consideration is due.



The Legislature is presumed to have knowledge of its own laws. See Ingram v. Bearden, 212 S.C. 399, 47 S.E.2d 833 (1948)(a machine was definitely outlawed by prior statute and the General Assembly was deemed to be aware of that fact). Respectful consideration to DOR's position (which consideration relies upon a presumption that the Legislature has knowledge of and gives tacit approval to the agency's actions) pales in comparison to the Legislature's presumptive knowledge of its own laws. The Legislature intentionally created licensed establishments and created machine licenses. Further, the Legislature defined licensed establishments and demonstrated it clearly knew the difference between machine licenses and establishment licenses. Thus, reliance upon the Legislature's knowledge of its own laws is a far superior indicator of legislative intent than reliance upon the respectful consideration of DOR's position.



iii. Compelling Reasons



While others may exist, at least two compelling reasons warrant deviating from DOR's view. First, DOR's position is inconsistent with the plain meaning of the statute such that reliance upon DOR's view places far too much weight on an administrative interpretation. See Stone Mfg. Co. v. South Carolina Employment Sec. Comm'n, 219 S.C. 239, 64 S.E.2d 644 (1951) citing F. W. Woolworth Co. v. United States, 91 F.2d 973, 976 (2d. Cir. 1937) ("At most, administrative practice is a weight in the scale, to be considered, but not to be inevitably followed. * * * While we are of course bound to weigh seriously such rulings, they are never conclusive."). Second, a compelling reason to deviate from DOR's view is that following the position perpetuates an administrative error. Fennell v. South Carolina Tax Commission, 233 S.C. 43, 103 S.E.2d 424 (1958) (an interpretation presented by an administrative position is not so sacrosanct as to be beyond the correction of error; it need not perpetuate error). In short, sufficient and compelling reasons exist to deviate from DOR's position.

B. Due Process violation



Because I find that the six month prohibition of section 12-21-2804(A) applies only to the machines with revoked licenses, and not to the location, it is unnecessary to address Respondents' due process argument.



B. Expired Licenses



1. Positions of Parties



Coastal argues that no six month prohibition can be imposed on the forty machines since the six month prohibition is triggered only when a license is revoked. Coastal reasons that all forty licenses have already expired, and therefore, they cannot be revoked. DOR asserts that the six month prohibition is not defeated by expiration of a license. Rather, it argues that the six month prohibition "attached" at the time the violation occurred.



2. Findings of Fact



Based on the preponderance of the evidence, the following findings of fact are entered:



The violation of S.C. Code Ann. § 12-21-2804 occurred on May 8, 1997. On that date all forty licenses for the forty machines in issue were unexpired. However, by the time of the hearing in this case, all of the licenses for these forty machines had expired.



3. Conclusions of Law



Based upon the above Findings of Fact, I conclude as a matter of law, the following:



Coastal argues that no six month prohibition can be imposed on the re-licensing of the forty machines since the corresponding licenses expired prior to the final hearing in this case. Coastal reasons that the six month prohibition on the use of Class III machines cannot be imposed unless a revocation is first imposed, and that an expired license cannot be revoked since nothing exists to revoke.



I disagree. The conduct for which DOR seeks license revocation occurred while the affected licenses were still in effect. All statutorily mandated consequences of such conduct attach regardless of the natural life of the license. To read the statute as suggested by Coastal renders the six month prohibition meaningless. If all that is required to avoid the six month prohibition is a showing that the license no longer exists (i.e. nothing remains to be revoked), one could easily avoid the six month prohibition by merely turning in the license before the decision on the merits of a violation was adjudicated. This interpretation is inconsistent with the intent of the General Assembly. See Kiriakides v. United Artists Communications, 312 S.C. 271, 440 S.E.2d 364 (1994)(the courts will reject an interpretation that would lead to a result so plainly absurd that it could not possibly have been intended by the legislature or would defeat the plain legislative intention).



Here, the plain wording of the statute indicates that the General Assembly intended the six month prohibition to flow as a natural consequence of a proven violation, and it did not intend to create a prohibition so easily defeated as that suggested by Coastal.(5)

Accordingly, the expiration of the licenses on the forty machines owned by Coastal prevents neither the revocation of the licenses nor the imposition of a six month prohibition on the use of those machines.



C. Amount of Fine



1. Positions of Parties



DOR asserts that a fine of $5,000 is due from Coastal, as the holder of the machine licenses, and that $5,000 is due from Mid-South, as the location owner. Both Mid-South and Coastal argue that the penalty should be reduced since the violation took place just a few weeks after the opening of the location, during the beginning stages of its operation. Also, Coastal argues in its prehearing statement that it had no control over the employee activities at the location, and therefore, it should not be liable for a fine.



2. Findings of Fact



Based on the preponderance of the evidence, the following findings of fact are entered:



George D. Vinovich is the owner of Respondent Coastal Coin, Inc. Mr. Vinovich is also the owner of Respondent Mid-South, Inc. Judicial notice is taken of the fact that Mr. Vinovich and Coastal have had several Class III video game machines located in establishments throughout South Carolina. Judicial notice is also taken of the fact that Mr. Vinovich and Mid-South have operated several video game locations throughout South Carolina.



The violation in the instant case took place at the 1300 Surfside Ind. Park location on May 8, 1997. While there appear to have been no prior violations at this location, Respondents and their principal, George Vinovich, have five previous violations at other locations in South Carolina.(6) Even if these violations are under appeal, the number of disputes demonstrates that Respondents are well aware of the need for separate employees on the premises of each game room.



3. Conclusions of Law



Based upon the above Findings of Fact, I conclude as a matter of law, the following:



A violation of section 12-21-2804(A) results in the imposition of a fine. S.C. Code Ann. § 12-21-2804(F) (Supp. 1998). The person liable for the fine is the person who committed the violation. S.C. Code Ann. § 12-21-2804(F) (Supp. 1998). The only violation here is that of exceeding the five machine limit for a single place or premises.



A. Person Liable



Those persons to whom the five machine limit applies are those who either maintain a Class III machine for use or permit the use of a Class III machine on premises which they occupy. S.C. Code Ann. §§ 12-21-2720(A) and -2804(A) (Supp. 1998).



Here, Mid-South occupied the ten game rooms in question and permitted the use of the Class III machines in these game rooms. Further, Coastal is a person who maintains the Class III machines for play. Both Mid-South and Coastal benefit from the machine license; therefore, both are responsible for compliance with section 12-21-2804(A). Further, the separate employee requirement in Regulation 117-190 applies to both Mid-South, as the owner of the location, and Coastal, as the machine owner. See McNickel's Inc. v. South Carolina Dep't. of Revenue, 331 S.C. 629, 503 S.E.2d 723 (1998). In any event, both Respondents in this case are owned by the same individual, George Vinovich. Therefore, Coastal's argument that it had no control over the employee activities at the location lacks credibility.



Both Mid-South and Coastal violated section 12-21-2804(A) and Regulation 117-190, and both are liable for a penalty.



B. Amount of Fine



Where the General Assembly authorizes a range for an administratively imposed penalty, the administrative adjudicator sitting as the fact-finder may set the amount of the penalty after a hearing on the dispute. Walker v. South Carolina ABC Comm'n, 305 S.C. 209, 407 S.E.2d 633 (1991). When penalty disputes are part of the factual issues for decision, the fact-finder must receive evidence and make a determination on all such factual disputes arising from the contested case. S.C. Code Ann. § 1-23-350 (Rev. 1986).



Here, the evidence establishes that Coastal, Mid-South and their principal, George Vinovich, have violated section 12-21-2804(A) on five previous occasions. Under such circumstances, the imposition of a $5,000 fine on each party is appropriate.



IV. Order



Based upon the Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, it is hereby ordered:



A fine of $5,000 is imposed upon Coastal and a fine of $5,000 is imposed upon Mid-South. The forty Class III machine licenses held by Coastal are revoked effective as of the date of this order. The forty Class III machines involved in this matter shall not be licensed for a period of six months from the date of this order. Finally, Coastal shall provide DOR with the serial numbers of the forty machines involved in this matter so that DOR may adequately enforce the six month non-licensure period.



AND IT IS SO ORDERED.





____________________________

RAY N. STEVENS

Administrative Law Judge



Dated: September 16, 1999

Columbia, South Carolina

1. Normally, the first issue examined in a case involving an alleged violation of the five machine limit of S.C. Code Ann. § 12-21-2804(A) (Supp. 1998) is whether each game room qualifies as a "single place or premises" as defined in 27 S.C. Code Ann. Regs. 117-190 (Supp. 1998). However, here Coastal Coin, Inc. and Mid-South, Inc. have admitted that a violation of § 12-21-2804(A) occurred. Thus, no need exists for findings of fact or conclusions of law on that issue and none are presented here.

2. Certainly, the dead machine view allows the location owner to buy or lease new machines, purchase new licenses and begin operation almost immediately at the same location. However, the machine revocation penalty is meaningful since the cost includes new licenses, new machines, and leaves old machines that are worthless for six months. The General Assembly provided this result and a court should not rewrite statutes to provide a "better" penalty since such matters rest solely within the wisdom of the General Assembly. Creech v. South Carolina Pub. Serv. Auth., 200 S.C. 127, 20 S.E.2d 645 (1942).

3. The additional license of Article 20 also applies to other entities; machine manufacturers, distributors, and operators must obtain the Article 20 license.

4. The "establishment license for machine placement" as required by Article 20 is not the retail sales tax license of S.C. Code Ann. § 12-36-510 (Supp. 1998) required by S.C. Code Ann. § 12-21-2703 (Supp. 1998). The name "retail license" is well known by the legislature. See 12-36-510 (Supp. 1998). Had the legislature meant "retail license" in § 12-21-2788 it would have used that name rather than the unusual name of "establishment license for machine placement." Rather, the Article 20 "establishment license" is the license required to assure Class III machines meet the technology demands of §§ 12-21-2782 and 12-21-2783. S.C. Code Ann. § 12-21-2784 (Supp. 1998).

5. Other jurisdictions have also held that the expiration of a license does not moot the revocation of that license when revocation proceedings are timely commenced. See Alpern v. License Appeal Commission of City of Chicago, 38 Ill.App.3d 565, 348 N.E.2d 271 (1976); People v. Standard Accident Insurance Company, 17 A.D.2d 1, 230 N.Y.S.2d 145 (1962); Wallman v. New York State Athletic Commission, 20 Misc.2d 398, 194 N.Y.S.2d 213 (1959); Valley Lodge v. Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, 163 Pa.Super. 395, 62 A.2d 68 (1948); Vitali v. Smith, 105 R.I. 760, 254 A.2d 766 (1969); see also 51 Am.Jur.2d License and Permits § 83 (1970).

6. See ALJD cases 97-ALJ-17-0250-CC; 97-ALJ-17-0294-CC; 97-ALJ-17-0060-CC; 95-ALJ-17-0123-CC; 95-ALJ-17-0111-CC.


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