In order to sum up the chances of legal sports betting in South Carolina, there is something that you should know. The fact that a discussion has even taken place is a surprise.
South Carolina has what is called an Education Lottery and it is presently the only form of gambling in the state. The only other way to gamble is to take one of the casino cruise ships originating from the Myrtle Beach area that allows for gambling once the ship gets out into international waters. Table and card games are offered on those vessels, but there are no land-based gaming facilities in South Carolina.
In essence, South Carolina would have to adopt the Tennessee plan when it comes to sports betting. Tennessee has no land-based gaming facilities either, so when the Volunteer State goes live with sports betting in 2020, it will solely be online and mobile. South Carolina would have to do the same. That seems like a remarkably tough sell for a state that has rebuffed any expansion of gaming for a long period of time.
What would be really interesting to see if the lawmakers would be willing and able to put it to a state vote. It would take a lot of discussion in legislative sessions, but any bill that came together with any level of promise that could be put forth to the voters could very well pass. South Carolina, like just about every other state, could use some additional funds for infrastructure, like roads and education. The Education Lottery has been extremely beneficial for the state’s students K-12 and now sports betting revenues could be put into other fabrics of society and travel.
But, South Carolina is also a state very deep in religious tradition and most of the social ills of gambling would be talking points, particularly for representatives and senators of more rural areas.
There was some optimism back in 2018 when PASPA was overturned by Murphy v. NCAA that legal sports betting would not be “impossible” in the Palmetto State. That’s just it, though. The idea that it might not be “impossible” does not inspire a ton of confidence.
Once upon a time, South Carolina approved video gaming, with things like games of chance and video poker. It took only a few months before the state legislature banned gaming once again.
Is it possible that sports betting could be a gateway to open the state up for an expansion of gambling? It could be. But without pressure from neighboring states, it seems unlikely. Georgia is moving towards possibly approving sports betting, which would provide more of a boost for South Carolina’s chances than any sort of legislative discussion.
Still, it seems like a long shot for the Palmetto State for quite a long period of time.
How Do I Bet on Sports in South Carolina?
You don’t. In fact, the state has cracked down pretty hard in the past on illegal poker games and local bookmaking, so it is even hard to find those types of things around South Carolina.
Leaving the state to gamble is the only option. North Carolina recently approved retail betting up in the Smoky Mountains at two Harrah’s properties, but those are a long drive from Charlotte, let alone most of the populated areas in South Carolina. Georgia is moving towards legalized sports betting, but is not there yet.
Those are the only two states with which South Carolina shares a border. So, you’ll have to travel a pretty good distance in order to bet on sports. Gamecocks fans do travel well, however, and when they go to Nashville or Knoxville, betting will be allowed in Tennessee later this year. Mississippi also has legal sports betting.
Otherwise, take a plane and head to Las Vegas or one of the other states with legal wagering.
It will be a long time, if ever, before South Carolina takes legal sports wagers.