Every time you advance to St. Charles Place, you are taking a Chance that you will GO TO JAIL! GO DIRECTLY TO JAIL!

In South Carolina, it is illegal to pass Go or collect $200 — even if it is just Monopoly money.

The same state law that has forced a local radio station to cancel its charity poker tournament scheduled for next week also makes it illegal for anyone in South Carolina to play a game — any game — that uses cards or dice.

Yes, Yahtzee could be a crime, and if you Go Fish you may instead go up the river. Sorry! Take a ride on the Reading Railroad all the way to Lieber.

This little-known law came to light in response to an opinion from the attorney general's office requested by state Rep. Wallace Scarborough, R-Charleston. Scarborough has unsuccessfully tried to pass legislation to exempt charity poker events like the WTMA Holy City Charity

Poker Challenge from the current law.

But now the May 5 tournament has been shut down, and Scarborough's bill is languishing in the legislative equivalent of Baltic Avenue.

The state attorney general's office, which merely interprets, not writes, these laws, says it has a Clue that Operation is still a legal procedure.

"Our research and reading of the law suggests that Candyland, for the moment, is safe in South Carolina," says Mark Plowden, spokesman for Attorney General Henry McMaster.

Of course, don't expect local law enforcement to go after the stores that sell this contraband — dealers such as Wal-Mart and Target — or break up any underground Parcheesi rings.

"We don't really do anything about that," says Capt. John Clark, spokesman for the Charleston County Sheriff's Office. "What are we going to do, arrest 5-year-olds?"

That would only be possible if we followed the letter of every law in the state.

The immediate losers in all of this are the 800 or so who were expected to play in WTMA's Texas Hold 'Em tournament and the ASCEND Foundation, a local cancer charity. ASCEND stood to make about $10,000.

"That's South Carolina," says Richard Todd, the WTMA-AM talk show host who organized the event. "There are still a lot of stupid laws on the books, stuff like you can't have a horse in the bathtub."

Last year, the first Holy City Charity Poker Challenge passed under the radar of state law enforcement. About 500 people played in the event, which was about as seedy as a Star Trek convention — one guy even showed up dressed like an alien (he went out quickly, perhaps to phone home).

Todd says the State Law Enforcement Division threatened to shut down the tournament this year, revoke the liquor license of vendors who sold beer there, and possibly even arrest everyone in the tournament. Forget the Mount Pleasant 18 — how about the North Chuck 800?

So, they just canceled.

Todd says he's going to keep pressuring lawmakers to join the 21st century, but some Statehouse observers say it's unlikely the Legislature will gamble with gaming laws. This is, after all, the people who were shocked — shocked — to find out video poker gambling was going on, shut it down and then started up their own lottery outfit.

So, if you would like to win second prize in a beauty contest, chill out at Marvin Gardens, or move your token to Illinois Avenue, keep quiet about it. It's against the law. And don't bet on it changing.

That really would be illegal.