South Carolina Sports Betting

In a state as gambling-averse as South Carolina, legal sports betting likely won’t be happening any time soon. Barbecue-smokey tailgates in Death Valley and Columbia during Clemson and South Carolina football games certainly are ripe for bets to be made. Certainly, some sunburned man in the gallery of the PGA Championship has tempted a buddy with a friendly wager on whether the leader sinks the next putt.

However, South Carolina sports betting — online or in-person — is simply not a thing right now. One glimmer of hope came in July 2021 when a committee studying how to improve economic conditions for horsemen in the state recommended the adoption of pari-mutuel wagering. Horse betting is, of course, a decidedly different form of gambling compared to sports betting on college football games or golf. But it’s a sign that maybe, possibly, legal betting in South Carolina could happen in the future.

If it does, you’ll read about it here first. Check back often for any updates on the campaign to bring legal sports betting to South Carolina. In the meantime, let’s dive into the details of where things stand right now for legal betting in South Carolina.

Latest news

Feb. 15, 2022

Joe Cunningham, a Democrat running for governor, wants to legalize sports betting in South Carolina.

Said the former member of the U.S. House of Representatives in an issues paper:

“It is time to give South Carolinians the same freedom people in 30 other states enjoy and finally legalize sports betting,” Cunningham said. “This is about freedom and generating new revenue for our state to tackle our biggest challenges.

“The fact is sports betting is already happening in South Carolina; but it’s underground, unregulated, and brings in zero tax revenue for our state. So we have two options: we can let the bookies run the entire industry and keep it underground with no tax revenue for our state, or we can bring it above board, regulate it, tax it, and fix problems with the money.”

Is sports betting legal in South Carolina?

No. In fact, no form of gambling is legal in the state. There are no South Carolina casinos, no betting on horses, nothing. The only legal exceptions are strictly controlled social games (home poker games, mahjong, bridge, etc.), the state lottery, and charitable bingo games.

Does South Carolina have legal online sportsbooks?

Nope, sports betting is not legal in any fashion in South Carolina. So if a website is telling you it is, they’re at best really, really stretching the truth … but in actuality, just lying to you.

There are numerous concerns with offshore sportsbooks that make them not worth your time, effort, and money. You’ll be asked for all manner of personal information and financial details to sign up, just like at a legal sportsbook app. The trouble is, this information is going somewhere outside of US laws and regulations. If something happens with your information, it’s your problem. South Carolina officials and consumer advocates are going to be inclined to help you, but they’re legally shackled and you’re not going to gain much traction. Don’t do it. You have no idea if the games are fair, if you can collect your winnings, or if you can just get your deposit if you change your mind. It’s not worth it.

Can you play daily fantasy sports contests in South Carolina?

Yes, you can technically play DFS in South Carolina. The state attempted to shut the activity down in 2016 and considers it gambling but hasn’t added any official ban to its ledger of sometimes-centuries-old laws forbidding it. For now, DFS contests and sites like FanDuel and DraftKings and newcomers like Monkey Knife Fight compete in South Carolina.

When will South Carolina regulate sports betting?

It could be a while. A bill attempting to bring gambling to South Carolina — it included sports betting — died without even a committee hearing in 2021. This after Gov. Henry McMaster said in 2018 that gambling “flies in the face of everything South Carolina stands for.”

Unfortunately, for those who want to bet on sports in South Carolina, there’s not a lot of competitive (and thus motivational) regional pressure, either. Tennessee online sports betting is there — if SC residents really want to make the drive — but the state only shares a small border to the northwest. North Carolina has retail sports betting in a collection of western tribal casinos but is still trying to hash out mobile. Georgia makes minute movements in fits and starts but doesn’t seem that close.

House Resolution 3395, filed in 2020, proposed an amendment to the state constitution so South Carolina could, as the amendment notes:

“Provide for the conduct of gambling and gaming activities on which bets are made to include pari-mutuel betting on horse racing, sports betting on professional sports, casino activities, such as card and dice games where the skill of the player is involved in the outcome, and games of chance with the use of electronic devices or gaming tables, all of which strictly must be regulated and may be conducted in one location or in separate locations within the specified area subject to special laws, including criminal laws, enacted by the general assembly, applicable only in the specified area, with the revenue realized by the state and local jurisdictions to be used for highway, road, and bridge maintenance, construction, and repair; and by proposing an amendment to section 8, article xvii of the constitution of south carolina, 1895, relating to miscellaneous matters, by deleting section 8 which makes it unlawful for a person holding an office of honor, trust, or profit to engage in gambling or betting on games of chance, and requires the officer’s removal from office upon conviction for a gambling offense.”

It was a big reach and didn’t get far, even with gambling revenues earmarked for “highway, road, and bridge maintenance, construction, and repair.”

Neither did Senate Resolution 98, which said: “The general assembly may provide for the conduct of gambling and gaming activities in certain areas of the state under certain circumstances, to provide that any gambling or gaming activities must be strictly regulated, to provide for the allocation of any revenues; and proposing an amendment to section 8, article xvii of the constitution of South Carolina, 1895, relating to officers gambling and betting, by deleting section 8, to delete the provision that makes it unlawful for a person holding an office of honor, trust, or profit to engage in gambling or betting on games of chance, and to require an officer’s removal from office upon conviction for a gambling offense.”

Both resolutions were introduced by Democrats in the heavily Republican state, so … strike one and two.

In the first meeting of the Equine Industry Support Measures Study Committee — comprised of two House members and two senators, two horse industry representatives and a state Agriculture Department member — horse betting was raised as a way to make the industry more profitable and attractive to out-of-state interests.

“I’m interested in bringing horses here, tourists here, people here to participate and be entertained by the horse industry,” State Sen. Dick Harpootlian told the Associated Press. “And if having tracks where people can bet, … I want the money to be here.”

Legalizing horse betting requires a constitutional amendment, meaning a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate and approval by a majority of voters. The same goes for the proposed gambling and sports betting amendment. The failure of both does not bode well for any near-future change of heart in the state.

How old do I have to be to bet on sports in South Carolina?

In most states, the answer is 21. In South Carolina, it doesn’t matter. You can’t bet on sports in South Carolina.

Which online sportsbooks could launch in South Carolina?

If it ever happens, expect the common national brands like FanDuel and DraftKings as well as BetMGM and Caesars Sports to jump in unless South Carolina goes with the monopoly model with the state lottery in charge of a single app — similar to that of states like Delaware or Oregon. That said, at this point, this is like speculating on the color of the spaceship the aliens land in for first contact.

South Carolina sportsbooks near me

If you’re looking for a legal sportsbook in South Carolina or a legal SC sports betting app, the easy answer is nowhere because you can’t legally bet. There are no tribal or commercial casinos in SC, therefore no sportsbooks, and no form of retail or mobile betting is legal.

The only nearby sportsbooks are in Tennessee, but it too has no casinos and is a mobile-only sports betting state. To bet on sports in Tennessee, you must be physically located inside the state, which requires a drive. You can sign up and register at TN sportsbooks from within South Carolina, but all bets must be placed in Tennessee. Tennessee is home to DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, BetMGM Sportsbook, and more.

Betting on South Carolina sports teams

If South Carolina sports betting ever happens, there will be no shortage of popular and successful programs to bet on. The key in this, however, will be whether whatever law that’s enacted allows for wagering on in-state college teams. Though the national trend has been for states to allow betting on local colleges — like Michigan — there are still plenty of states that don’t — like Illinois. In states with lots of pro teams, that’s just an annoyance to fans. In a state like South Carolina where the alma maters rule and no “Big Four” pro teams exist, it could be a stopper for locals wanting to bet legally.

These teams and events that reside inside South Carolina would have huge local interest:

  • Clemson Tigers college football
  • South Carolina Gamecocks sports, mostly football
  • Coastal Carolina football and baseball
  • The numerous PGA and LPGA golf events held there
  • NASCAR racing at Darlington Raceway
  • Carolina Panthers just across the border in Charlotte, N.C.
  • Charlotte Hornets just across the border in Charlotte, N.C.

Sports betting in South Carolina wrapup

Are things really so bleak in South Carolina? It appears so, at least politically. A poll conducted by Winthrop University showed that 70% of South Carolinians would support legalizing gambling if revenues went to repair the state’s roads. The state has as many dodgy roads as rabid sports fans. Still, some in the state have bitter memories over Operation Lost Trust, where 18 lawmakers were charged for accepting bribes to support a horse racing bill 30 years ago.

But there is an appetite. And there is a rich sports history there with the Clemson Tigers, South Carolina Gamecocks, NASCAR races, and golf tournaments. Surely, someone would have taken an interest in some Trevor Lawrence prop bets or Tigers’ moneylines as they marched to national football championships. Additionally, a new study is being conducted on if horse betting could be a potentially strong revenue industry for South Carolina.

For now, South Carolina is a bad bet to legalize sports wagering anytime soon, but maybe the potholes will eventually pave the way.

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