South Carolina Gambling Laws

South Carolina Gambling LawsGambling in South Carolina laws appear restrictive compared to some-other-states in America. No casinos, tribal-or-commercial, are legal within state lines. Charitable games are heavily-restricted, and social gambling is implicitly illegal.

Casino cruises launch from South Carolina cities, and the State Lottery is popular. Since the 2002 launch, the lottery has provided the state with more than $5 billion in revenue, which goes to improving public education outcomes.

For the Palmetto-State’s stance on online casino laws, betting on sports, online gambling etc., see table below

Gambling Type Legal Land-Based Legal Online
Sports Betting No No
Casinos No No
Fantasy Sports (DFS) N/A Yes
eSports No No
Poker No No
Horse-Racing No No
Lottery Yes No
Charitable-Gambling Yes No

South Carolina Gambling Tax Rate

There is an 7% tax on gambling winnings.

Large wins may possibly attract additional Federal taxes.

Gambling age in South Carolina

Gambling Type Age
DFS 18
Casinos 21 (Cruise Casinos)
Lottery 18
Charitable-Gambling 18

Sports Betting Laws in South Carolina

Developments at the Federal level of government usually set the agenda for South Carolina Sports Betting and more generally, for all Sports Betting in the USA. South Carolina’s State Legislators will now examine more seriously the possibility of introducing legal sports betting after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to pass sports betting laws back to the states in May 2018.

Is Sports Betting legal in South Carolina?

Given the short-lived passage of the gambling expansion bill H 3102 (seeking to legalize land-based casinos complete with sports betting options and horse racing betting in South Carolina) that was unsuccessfully introduced to the South Carolina Legislature on January 2017 (not progressing past the introduction stage), it’s unlikely that South Carolina will introduce sports betting over the next few months.

That said, now that the U.S. Supreme Court has okayed the practice and a 2017 poll of South Carolinians resulted in a 68% majority result in favor of expanding gambling, times could possibly change more rapidly than anyone thinks.

For the time being, however, South Carolina’s residents-and-visitors can enjoy playing DFS real money competitions to fulfil their sports gaming wants and needs.

Sports Betting Online

Online sports betting, like most forms of gambling in South Carolina, is expressly prohibited under the law. In South Carolina, it’s not a simple matter of gambling online needing to be regulated and licensed and the appropriate level of sports betting taxes being negotiated. To the contrary, state law defines the act of illegal gambling to include internet gambling.

South Carolina Law Part 16-19-40 Section g (see full text below) shows that the law finds a person is guilty of illegal gambling based on the following:

“If any person shall play at a place of gaming or open place at (a) any game with cards or dice, (b) any gaming table, (c) any roley-poley table, (d) rouge et noir, (e) any faro bank, (f) any other table or bank of the same or the like kind under any denomination whatsoever, or (g) any machine or device licensed pursuant to Section 12-21-2720 and used for gambling purposes …”

The fine for the first offense is 30 days’ imprisonment and/or a fine to a maximum of $100. A second offense is a serious felony.  Being convicted of illegal gambling a second time can result in a 12-month sentence and a fine up to a maximum of $2000.

Naturally, before any online gambling can be introduced to South Carolina, the state’s lawmakers will be required to change the harsh laws.

Until new state laws are introduced, insofar as online gaming options go, we recommend sticking to simply playing DFS competitions for real money in South Carolina.

Casinos in South Carolina

After Utah, South Carolina is the most heavily restricted in terms of casino gambling, and neither commercial or tribal casinos are deemed legal in the Palmetto State.

South Carolina’s Cruise Casinos

South Carolina’s Gambling Cruise Act allows for and defines terms for the popular gambling cruises that depart from South Carolina and sail to international waters and provide gambling options in both games of skill and games of chance (blackjack, craps, roulette, Texas Hold’em poker, slots and bingo).

Given the lack of land-based casino options in the Palmetto State, the cruises are a popular gambling diversion of citizens of South Carolina, and its many tourist visitors.

Online Casinos in South Carolina

Legal online-gaming options in South Carolina are limited exclusively to real money DFS competitions. (See penalties for breaking South Carolina’s strict anti-gambling laws above in the ‘Sports Betting Online’ section).

Until the full legalization of online casino play in South Carolina, players in the Palmetto State should refrain from using both U.S. based online casinos and off-shore sites and not run the risk of possible charges under South Carolina’s strict gambling laws.

<h2>Horse Racing Betting in South Carolina</h2>

Non-betting horse racing is allowed at one racetrack only in South Carolina, specifically for the Carolina Cup and the Carolina Steeplechase.

Track Side: The one track (as above) is used for non-betting horse races only.

Off-Track Betting (OTB): South Carolina does not offer OTB facilities for its residents and visitors.

Online Betting on Horse Racing in South Carolina: Horse Racing Online Betting sites are unavailable for use in South Carolina.

<h2>South Carolina’s Daily Fantasy Sports Laws</h2>

Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) have been ruled at the Federal level of law-making to be contests of skill and accordingly, they are exempt from all Federal gambling regulation. State governments across the nation have taken up the spirit of the Federal ruling and many have legalized DFS under their own respective state laws.

One of the few positives in South Carolina’s gaming laws is that they do not restrict real money DFS competitions. DFS sites have established that South Carolina law does not restrict them from offering their real money competitions to residents and visitors to the Palmetto State.

Strange as it may seem, South Carolina’s State Government has never addressed the legality of DFS competitions one way or another. South Carolina is a restrictive gambling state, however, the major DFS sites have been operating in the state legally for a number of years without any impediments from the authorities. The general sense in South Carolina seems to indicate a lack of burning desire to address the issue.

South Carolina’s lawmakers did attempt to introduce DFS legislation in 2016 with bill S 1093, but that effort was ultimately defeated. Meanwhile, DFS competitions are played legally in South Carolina without obstacle.

What exactly is DFS?

A DFS competition is a ubiquitous and unique real money sports game that is unrecognizable from traditional win/loss sports betting. The format is simple. Sign up for a league, and draft your team from a fully-priced player pool. Your team’s overall wages must not exceed the “salary cap”. A player’s salary is based on their recent performance and upcoming match-ups. These salaries are determined by the DFS site’s management, and are not shared with DFS punters until the leagues go live for play.

The athletes in the real-world sports competitions (NHL, MLB, NBA, NFL and college football and basketball among others) and just like transfer fees in the real-sports world, are all valued based on their live real-world season performances and career statistics

For example, in an NBA DFS league, players may select a new fantasy team every day or allotted time period: using their budget to spend on point guards, centers, power forwards, swingmen etc. DFS Points are awarded based on the performances of the players in the actual games (e.g. 0.5 for a 3-point shot or 2 points for a block etc.).

The team whose players collate the most points, wins the league regardless if it is a daily, weekly, regular season competition or a stand-alone playoff ‘league’.

The major U.S. sporting leagues (NFL is the most popular, however, NBA, NHL and MLB plus MMA, NASCAR, PGA Golf and college football and basketball all offer DFS competitions) all run DFS leagues. Huge prizes of more than $1 million per league can potentially paid out to winners of each DFS competition, be it daily, weekly, monthly or even over the course of an entire season.

DFS Competition winnings are paid out from the prize pools made up from all the player’s minimal entry fees.

Poker Laws in South Carolina

No Live Poker options exist in South Carolina proper. Live poker options are occasionally available on the cruise casinos sailing from South Carolina to international waters. Even social or home poker games are deemed to contravene South Carolina’s strict anti-gambling laws.

Online Poker Laws in South Carolina

Online Poker is a currently unavailable for gamblers in South Carolina and the topic is not scheduled for discussion by the state’s lawmakers. See above sections, ‘Sports Betting Online’ and ‘Online Casinos in South Carolina’ for further clarification.

eSports Betting in South Carolina

It might seem some time away for now, however, once legal sports betting is finally introduced for South Carolina’s citizens, the practice should transform betting options for the new millennium in the Palmetto State. Once sports betting becomes reality in South Carolina, players will potentially be winning exciting eSports wagers through betting markets never before imagined and more importantly for the state’s fervent anti-gambling campaigners, in ways that are untouched by a cloudy illegal past.

What are ‘eSports’?

Anyone old enough to have attended an all-night LAN party back in the embryonic stages of video gaming in the earliest days of the 21st century, will attest that ever since the first days of video gaming, the game’s players have always been trying to beat their colleagues.

Advancing to the present day and professional video game play at the highest levels, (i.e. eSports) is now home to an enormous betting industry on the outcomes of the all the big global tournaments.

Professional eSports ‘athletes’ compete in games like Rocket League, CS:GO, League of Legends and Starcraft II across a global network of tournaments. The eSports industry shows little signs of slowing down any time soon as it continues grow at an exponential rate. The worldwide eSports market is expected to cross (The $1 billion threshold is expected to be reached in late 2018 / early 2019).

Sportsbooks are never far away whenever there is such massive financial reward on offer and the range of betting markets now available even surpass those of traditional sports.

As the time comes for sports betting to roll out in South Carolina, expect to see legal eSports betting as one of the first legal and available ways to place a sports betting wager in the Palmetto State.

Benefits of Legal Gambling to South Carolina

  • With little to no revenue streams available from legalized gambling (Other than the South Carolina State Lottery), South Carolina’s State Government could benefit financially by legalizing the practice.
  • For example, since it was introduced in 1992, the South Carolina ‘Education’ Lottery has raised more than $5 billion in funding for higher education, local school classrooms, libraries, scholarships and other programs.
  • Further State Government Revenue (as a value-added attraction to South Carolina’s tourist visitors) could be generated by the state’s tourism sector and associated service industries with legalized gambling.
  • Legalized gambling could be a superb source of additional South Carolinian State Government income and provide the Palmetto State with vast revenue streams to pay for further improvements in the state’s health system, fire protection and law-and-order services, hurricane relief programs and a better road and highway system for the state’s residents.

Gambling History in South Carolina

1788; South Carolina Statehood. Immediately bans all gambling.

1976; Charitable gambling (limited bingo games) legalized.

1999; Cruise Casinos considered legal by the Supreme Court.

2002; South Carolina ‘Education’ Lottery is held for the first time.

2008; Cruise Casinos officially legalized and regulated.

2016; DFS legalization bill defeated in South Carolina’s State House.

2017; Gambling expansion bill H 3102 (seeking to legalize land-based casinos complete with sports betting options and horse racing betting in South Carolina) fails to pass the State Legislature.



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