South Carolina as a state has historically been against gambling in all of its forms, including sports betting. Unfortunately for sports fans out there, that animosity still continues to the present day. South Carolina gambling law is incredibly restrictive compared to other states.
As of 2020, it is illegal to bet on sports in South Carolina. In fact, most forms of gambling are illegal in the state, including casinos and social gambling (e.g. playing low-stakes poker with your friends). The only legal form of gambling in South Carolina is the state lottery.
In South Carolina, the only legal way you can leverage your sports information to make money is through daily fantasy football leagues. We will cover the rules governing fantasy football in South Carolina in a later section.
First, though, we will give a more in-depth view of the legal situation in South Carolina regarding sports betting.
Legality of Sports Gambling in South Carolina
Palmetto State has always held conservative views of gambling, demonstrated by having only two river boat casinos and a state lottery. Historically there hasn’t been any political will to change state gambling laws even after the Federal law banning sports betting was overturned in May 2018. But things are slowly changing.
Unlike other US states, which have jumped out of the blocks and have legalized sports betting, South Carolina has is taking the slow and cautious step of engaging the public for their views of whether South Carolina is ready to expand their gambling laws.
This approach is spearheaded by two former elected officials – former State Superintendent for Education Jim Rex (Democrat) and former State Treasurer and State Representative Converse Chellis (Republican). They have established a non partisan committee named The Palmetto Forum for Gaming Studies to examine gambling views in the State.
For the next 18 months the committee will take to the streets and conduct open community discussions. They will seek and encourage discussion regarding casinos and their games, sports and horse betting and other forms of gambling.
They hope the result of this engagement will lead to a public vote on gaming in South Carolina. Bringing the choice to the people is their way of applying democracy to its fullest.
Palmetto Forum’s first meeting engaged with State Representative William Bailey for the area Little River. Little River is where the two river boat casinos operate from.
Why are gambling law changes being considered?
Many US states are suffering from budget deficits and South Carolina is no exception.
Finding ways of raising further taxes is at the forefront of many State representatives and legalizing gambling is one way of plugging the deficit hole.
South Carolina does not have a developed gambling infrastructure, and thus, to make gambling law changes will require new investment and setup costs to establish a proper framework for governance.
US Sports Betting Laws
The US has a fairly storied history regarding its sports betting laws. Before the 60s, sports betting was not really regulated by the federal government, although other types of gambling were. Different locales handled laws about sports betting differently. The first federal legislation aimed directly at gambling was motivated by the government wanting to crack down on organized crime, who often used sports betting as a means to launder dirty money.
The Wire Act of 1961 was the first key piece of legislation and outlawed the use of interstate telecommunications systems to facilitate information related to sports betting. In the 1970s, President Nixon passed the Organized Crime Control Act which effectively outlawed any sports agency that handled more than $2,000 in bets. These restrictions were intentionally designed to choke out organized crime sports gambling rackets.
In 1992, US lawmakers passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) which made it illegal for states to manage sportsbooks and receive tax revenue generated from sports betting. The goal of PASPA was to prevent corrupt entities from fixing the outcome of sports games to make money. The only exception to this act was the state of Nevada.
Then in 2006, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) essentially killed off betting with online poker. The point of this law was to prevent US banks from transacting with offshore sportsbooks by making it difficult for sportsbooks to process deposits and withdrawals.
However, all of this changed in 2018 when the US Supreme Court struck down PASPA on the grounds that it violated the 10th Amendment. At that point, states were free to pass legislation regarding all types of sports betting. This decision allowed states to take advantage of the multi-billion dollar sports betting industry as a source of revenue.
South Carolina Sports Betting Laws
Unfortunately, South Carolina has not taken advantage of this stream of revenue. Gambling is illegal in almost all of its forms and several prominent legislators from South Carolina are known for their strict anti-gambling stances. That means there is no in-person sports betting or online sports betting in South Carolina. South Carolina does not allow casinos or even poker either.
The legal language of South Carolina law is not very direct. There are very few laws that explicitly forbid specific types of gambling. The law instead defines and outlaws the act of illegal gambling. The legal language is difficult to parse but effectively forbids all types of gambling if it is not explicitly legalized by the state.
There is exactly one kind of bona fide gambling that is legal in South Carolina; the state lottery. The state lottery was instituted in 2002 as a means to gain tax revenue for the state, which was facing a significant deficit at the time. South Carolina also allows some types of slot-style games, as long as they do not disburse money directly to the player.
As is often the case, pushes to legalized sports betting are usually motivated by concerns about tax revenue, so it’s possible that South Carolina may change its mind on the issue sometime.
Currently, though, things do not look very hopeful. South Carolina has an entrenched anti-gambling morality that stems back to colonial days. South Carolina only just recently legalized charity raffles for non-profit organizations in 2014 but still places a maximum of $100 on tickets. There have been a handful of attempts to legalize some forms of gambling in South Carolina including sports betting, but they all never came to fruition.
Can I Bet Using an Offshore Sportsbook in South Carolina?
An offshore sportsbook is a sportsbook that operates in a different country outside of US jurisdiction. Many states do not allow people to be using offshore sportsbooks. South Carolina is one of these states. South Carolina law does not explicitly mention sports betting, but the language of the law is most often interpreted as making all kinds of sports betting illegal, including those placed with an offshore sportsbook. So no, you cannot place best using an offshore sportsbook.
Now obviously, thousands of people in South Carolina probably do place sports bets through unregulated offshore sportsbooks. But it is not legal and your money can be vulnerable, so it’s highly not recommended.
Is this illegal?
It is a gray area. The current state laws do not clearly articulate whether gambling offshore online is illegal or not. Therefore, you will find many online sports books (and online casinos) accepting US players from states that have ambiguous gambling laws – South Carolina is one of those states.
Is it dangerous?
There are two aspects to this question.
Firstly, will you get caught or fined?
I highly doubt it. Till this day, there has been no precedence of anyone being charged with breaking the law for playing at offshore online sports betting books or offshore online casinos.
Secondly, are offshore sports betting books trustworthy and reliable?
Very much so. They have been operating in the market for many years and sports betting is a clear cut outcome (when compared to online casino games). It’s therefore extremely difficult to argue that an outcome of a sports bet is wrong.
Best Offshore Sportsbooks in South Carolina
Can I Best on Daily Fantasy Sports in South Carolina?
The silver lining of South Carolina’s gaming laws is that they allow for daily fantasy sports leagues. South Carolina law does not say anything one way or another about daily fantasy sports, though many fantasy sports organizations operate in the state unencumbered. The state’s attorney general has ruled that daily fantasy sports betting does not concern their office.
Federal law also supports the legality of Daily Fantasy Sports. According to federal law, daily fantasy sports do not count as gambling because they involve equal parts luck and skill.
So as of now, it seems like Daily Fantasy Sports leagues are allowed in South Carolina. There have been a few pushes to introduce legislation related to daily fantasy sports, but none have gone anywhere.
Will Online Sports Betting Ever Be Legal in South Carolina?
The way things are going currently, no, it does not look like sports betting will be legal in South Carolina anytime soon. As we said, there is a deeply entrenched anti-gambling morality in South Carolina and many state public officials have staunch anti-gambling stances.
However, if South Carolina sports fans really want to scratch that betting itch, then they could always drive over to North Carolina. North Carolina legalized sports betting in 2019 and it is 100% legal to bet on collegiate and professional sports at state-licensed casinos.