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Abandoned Castle Video Games

Blacksburg, South Carolina

A royal relic from the time that gambling was accidentally made legal in South Carolina. 

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Castle Video Games, a defunct casino building, definitely stands out in its environment. The castle features a stone exterior, an arched wooden door, a looming knight statue, turrets, and other cliché castle features. Even in its decades-long stretch into neglect, it’s standing strong, and it holds a kind of kitschy allure in its rural South Carolina surroundings. Located right off the highway in the tiny, unassuming town of Blacksburg, South Carolina, it’s a weird setting for an even weirder story behind the Castle Video Games building.

Gambling was supposed to be illegal in South Carolina. In fact, gambling was clearly banned in South Carolina, in written law, since 1802. But in 1986, a scheming politician snuck an amendment into a bill that very subtly made gambling legal through the permission of video gambling. Apparently, the state itself didn’t even realize that this had happened until three years later, in 1989. 

Naturally, upon realizing that gambling was accidentally legal again, the early 1990s saw a boom in video poker. Gambling arcades popped up all around South Carolina, located conveniently close to state lines (across which gambling was still actually illegal). Video poker machines were everywhere during this time—you could find people chasing losses in restaurants, gas stations, bowling alleys, and corner stores.

But, of course, all good things must come to an end. In 1999, the South Carolina Supreme Court canceled video poker and banned gambling (again). At the time, it was reportedly a $2.8 billion industry. And just like that, the lights went out at Blacksburg’s Castle Video Games. The castle is still there, in pretty great condition, serving as a weird reminder of the time when video poker reigned supreme over the state of South Carolina.

Know Before You Go

Castle Video Games is easily visible from East Cherokee street.

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