Is Sports Betting Legal in South Carolina?

South Carolina is one of a handful of states that doesn’t have casinos. The state has an education lottery, but no gambling houses of really any kind on land. There are some casino boats that must go out into international waters, three miles away from the coast, before gambling can begin, but those are the only places to gamble in South Carolina. In fact, church raffles were even illegal until 2015.

This is a state that has never really embraced widespread, public gambling. There have been some pretty epic busts of illegal gambling halls and games. Brad Willis’s Bust story for the Bitter Southerner is one of the most incredible tales that you will read about an underground poker game. But, that’s just it, gambling has always been behind the scenes and as far away from the public eye in the Palmetto State as possible.

Is sports betting the thing that can change all that? Democrats have made a push for legalized sports betting in the state as a way to increase revenues for social programs and for the state budget. Like most southern states, religious beliefs carry significant weight with a lot of members of public office, which makes any gambling, let alone an expansion of gambling, a tough sell.

And, yet, South Carolina would be favored over its neighbor to the north in terms of the state that will get sports betting first. Legislation has been introduced and studies have been commissioned, which is a lot more than most would have expected given how South Carolina has suppressed gambling before. After all, video poker was banned in 2000 after the state dipped its toe into that pool. So, we wait and wonder about South Carolina and sports betting legalization.


Recent News Stories About Sports Betting

On the day that PASPA was struck down, Seanna Adcox of the Post and Courier spoke with several lawmakers to get their thoughts on the future of sports betting in South Carolina.

It would take an upset to see a Democrat win the gubernatorial race in the state, but the primary is pretty competitive right now. Andy Shain, also of the Post and Courier, talked about the candidates and mentioned their views on legalized sports betting.

Additional quotes from lawmakers came from Tim Smith of the Greenville News following the strike down of PASPA.

Gene Sapakoff’s column for the Post and Courier gave more of a glass half-full approach to the topic of legalized wagering in South Carolina.

What would legalized sports betting mean for one of the most prominent universities in the Palmetto State? Manie Robinson of the Greenville News asked President Harris Pastides of the University of South Carolina.



The idea that South Carolina is even entertaining legalized sports betting is something of an upset. There is a rich tradition of suppressing gambling in the state and Republican lawmakers, fueled by their religious beliefs, have had many successful bills and discussions in that quest. Yet, here we are, with South Carolina seriously considering this revenue stream. It does seem like more of a long shot than in most states, to say the least, but many probably believed the Palmetto State would be a solid no instead of a maybe.


Neighboring States


North Carolina