South Carolina is known for having some of the most restrictive gambling laws in the whole of the United States.
It is almost impossible to find somewhere to place a bet in the state, even in Charleston. While most major cities in the US now have casinos, this is not the case here.
A lot of states are moving forward with legislation that would see online gambling be legalized. But this is not the case in South Carolina, leaving Charleston residents having to wait.
What is the state of play for gambling in South Carolina – and could things change soon?
Gambling rules and regulations in South Carolina
Many believe only Utah has more restrictive gambling regulations in the US than South Carolina. This is despite the fact similarly conservative states such as West Virginia and Indiana have plenty of gambling options available for members of the public.
Indeed, even though horse racing is quite a popular activity in the state of South Carolina, even parimutuel betting is not allowed in this part of America. Parimutuel betting is permitted in the vast majority of the US, but not in South Carolina.
Let alone building a casino in the state, even efforts to create a new bingo hall in North Charleston have been blocked by people who are against all forms of gambling.
There has been a strong clampdown on illegal gambling in the state as well. Back in 2018, a computer repair shop in Charleston was raided and was found to have $50,000 worth of illegal betting machines inside.
Authorities in the state confirmed that the operator of the shop, a 49-year-old man, would be facing charges of unlawful games and betting. Some 25 betting machines were found.
A previous raid at Pappy’s restaurant in Hanahan found $400,000 in cash and dozens of video poker machines, which goes to show that some businesses have ignored the gambling laws.
One of the only places to bet in South Carolina is the Big ‘M’ Casino, which is a pair of luxury yachts that are located close to Myrtle Beach and close enough to Charleston for a day trip.
It seems bizarre that gambling on a boat at the Big ‘M’ Casino can be 100 per cent legal, while it is not allowed for people to place bets on sports or visit an online casino, but this is the state of play in South Carolina right now. The state does have a lottery, which funds education, though.
Why hasn’t South Carolina legalized gambling yet?
Charleston residents who would like to be able to bet legally may be confused about why South Carolina appears to be so far behind the curve when it comes to legalizing gambling.
As recently as 2018, a bill was proposed that could have paved the way for gambling to be legalized in South Carolina. But there was strong opposition from organizations such as the Palmetto Family Council, which aims to protect biblical values across South Carolina.
It is easy to forget it is not that long-ago gambling was legal in South Carolina. However, around the turn of the century, the state’s Supreme Court ruled that gambling should be deemed illegal and this has continued to be the situation ever since.
There were around 30,000 gambling machines in operation in the state before the law changed.
Should South Carolina legalize gambling again?
While there is opposition to legalizing gambling in South Carolina, people who do not want betting to be permitted in the state increasingly seem to be swimming against the tide.
The fact that gambling is legal in most other states means that people in Charleston and elsewhere in South Carolina can simply travel elsewhere if they want to have a bet.
There is a financial issue to take into account as well, especially with the coronavirus crisis having resulted in major issues to state budgets across America.
The state is losing out on millions of dollars in tax because people are simply playing at offshore online casinos instead of being able to place legal bets in South Carolina.
Other states are moving forward with legalizing online gambling, with Tennessee expected to be one of the next places in America to give the green light to sports betting and online casinos.
Tennessee’s state budget will receive a major boost as a result, providing a surge in income that can be used to pay for vital facilities such as education.
Opposition to legalizing gambling in South Carolina will continue, but surely betting will be allowed in Charleston and elsewhere in the state before too much longer.
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