The charming southern state of South Carolina ranks in the middle of the United States for population and does not boast a major city. There are no major league pro sports in the state. But South Carolina is home to a passionate college football tradition with the Clemson Tigers and South Carolina Gamecocks. Also, South Carolina borders Georgia and North Carolina. Those states have teams in all of the major pro sports and big-time college sports as well. Thus, the Palmetto State has plenty of sports and gambling interests.

State of South Carolina Sports Betting Overview

Some attempts towards legalized gambling and sports betting were made in 2019 by the House and Senate; however, none were successful. Bills HJR 3409 and SJR 57 proposed legalizing all forms of gambling, including sports betting. Whereas SJR 71 would create a commission to study the potential impact of legalized wagering.

Considering no further efforts have been made in 2020, the prospect of legal sports betting in South Carolina still looks to be some ways off. For any bill to legalize sports betting in South Carolina, it would first need to pass the legislative body and then a referendum vote by the voting public.

The only silver lining is that South Carolina’s infrastructure is in substantial need of revenue; sports gambling could be that source.

South Carolina lawmakers have increasingly warmed toward legalizing sports betting but face significant obstacles. For one, the lack of a commercial gambling industry that would otherwise provide the experience, infrastructure, and lobbying activities makes legalizing South Carolina sports betting an uphill trek.

To further complicate matters, legalizing sports betting in South Carolina would require amending the state constitution. Amending the constitution would require a statewide referendum and voters’ approval.

In early 2022, South Carolina Governor gubernatorial candidate Joe Cunningham supported legalizing online sports betting and retail sportsbooks.

However, whether pro-gaming lawmakers can get the support they need to legalize South Carolina sports betting remains to be seen.

As neighboring states legalize sports betting, South Carolina lawmakers may be persuaded to revisit the issue, particularly if they begin seeing significant sums of money leave South Carolina as residents cross state lines to bet on sports.

North Carolina is home to retail sportsbooks at tribal casinos across the border. At the same time, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia have all passed laws authorizing online sports betting and mobile apps.

The legality of daily fantasy sports in South Carolina has never been firmly addressed.Although South Carolina is a restrictive state in gaming, daily fantasy sports sites have offered their services to residents for years without pushback from authorities.

The legal status of daily fantasy sports sites that accept South Carolina residents seems to be of little concern to state officials. 

The Office of the Attorney General indicated a similar lack of concern. When asked about DFS, the AG’s office stated that it had not received any complaints about daily fantasy sports in South Carolina or requests for a legal opinion.

That appears to be the case to this day. South Carolina daily fantasy sites and mobile apps operate in a grey area of South Carolina law but are under no pressure to exit the state.

State of South Carolina Sports Betting Timeline

2023: HB 3749 is introduced and read in the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Revenue Policy. The bill will likely face a few more hearings before a full committee vote.

2022: HB 5277 is introduced. This bill proposes legalized sports betting including legalizing mobile sports betting. The bill had bipartisan support but died in committee.

2021: HB 3395 is introduced. The bill proposes an amendment to the constitution of South Carolina to legalize sports betting, horse betting, and casino gaming. The bill is read once and dies after being referred to the Committee on Judiciary.

2019: A joint effort from the House and Senate to legalize multiple forms of gambling, including casinos, dice games, and sports betting, failed to drum up discussion.

The joint resolutions, HJR 3409 and SJR 57 called for an amendment to South Carolina’s constitution. Sen. Gerald Malloy and Reps backed them. J. Todd Rutherford and Kambrell Garvin.

The bills died after their first readings in their committees.

Similarly, another joint resolution that called for the creation of a gambling study commission failed after its first committee reading. Sen. Malloy also championed that effort.

SJR 71 called for a “comprehensive analysis of the costs and benefits legalized gambling may produce for the state.” The nine-member committee would have included appointments from the governor, the president of the Senate, and the speaker of the House.

Momentum has been building for expanded gambling options in South Carolina over the past two years. A bill introduced in 2016 and carried over into 2017 sought to legalize land-based casinos, horse racing betting, and professional sports betting inside casinos. This bill had nothing to do with online gambling specifically. Still, any expansion of gambling in the real world tends to make it likelier that the state will also come around to accepting online gaming.

Lawmakers who supported the bill said legalizing South Carolina casinos, horse racing betting, and sports betting would help immensely in funding billions of dollars worth of infrastructure improvements and road repairs that are long overdue in the state. Lawmakers also expressed excitement at the prospect of luring major casino operators to the coast where they could set up large, resort-style casinos – imagine Myrtle Beach with large casinos overlooking the water.

Passing such legislation is no easy task, however, as it would have required an amendment to the state constitution. This would require not only a majority vote in both houses but also a referendum vote that would allow South Carolina voters to approve or block the proposal.