Surfside Beach upholds bingo ban after deadly Waccamaw Bingo shooting

Grand Strand

SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Leaders of one Grand Strand town say no to bingo following July’s deadly shooting at an Horry County parlor.

Last month, the Horry County Police Department says Steve and Sparky Johnson, who owned Waccamaw Bingo in Forestbrook, were shot and killed during an armed robbery there.

“I think they tried to rob him,” said a 911 caller that night. “Highway 501, Waccamaw Bingo. There’s been at least six shots fired. I do not know, I’m staying under a table. I’m not getting out.”

About a week later, Surfside’s planning commission said bingo “(would not) bring anything positive to the town” when considering an ordinance to allow parlors along Kings Highway. Town council agreed with the planning commission’s assessment and let the ordinance fail Tuesday night.

Mayor Bob Childs says it’s unclear if a potential bingo hall in Surfside would have had the larger jackpots Waccamaw Bingo has.

“I’m not so sure the gentleman who had inquired about bingo in the town was going to have that type of bingo,” he said. “It could have been one that a lot of people and elderly like to play.”

Beyond safety concerns, the planning commission says bingo isn’t a match for Surfside because its neighbors, Garden City and Myrtle Beach, already have halls.

It also says bingo would not financially benefit Surfside, including through tourism.

“It’s strictly run and operated by the state,” Mayor Childs said. “It’s a nonprofit. It actually brings no revenue into town.”

Derrick Rivera and Bradford Britton, both from Georgetown, face murder and armed robbery charges in the Waccamaw Bingo shooting.

They’re still in the Horry County jail, held without bail.

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