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The In’s and Out’s of South Carolina’s Gambling



The 1990’s saw quite the boom in regards to gambling in America. Gas stations were pumping out more slots than petroleum, Hollywood was glamorizing card games left, right and center and a pair of di were no longer just for kid’s games. Most states soon caught on to the fact that legislation and regulation was the way to go as the opportunity of so much tax revenue was too lucrative to dismiss.

But fast forward to South Carolina in the present and it still feels like we’re in the dark ages. Not only have they become one of the most regressive states in terms of gambling restrictions, but they’re complete lack of legislation has left more holes than a nice wedge of Swiss.

So just why has SC seemed to have missed the boat and what exactly is legal in the Palmetto State?

The Laws of the Past

Like most of the other states, one could barely drive 2 miles without encountering a one-armed-bandit back in the day. Slot machines were in every corner store, gas station and mall and without the proper authority to regulate, they quickly took over, becoming engrained in society.

South Carolina was still a very religious centered state back then, and the church quickly weighed in to rid society of its newest demon. They were right to do so and after the well publicized death of a toddler whilst mom was at the pokies, the public majority was all for it. All gambling was criminalized, casinos shut done and that was that, the key was thrown away.

A referendum was demanded and then promised though, to keep the people from rioting. Only this was then deemed unconstitutional and all gambling ruled illegal by the South Carolina Supreme Court in mid-2000.

What is Going on in the Present

So, now what South Carolinians are left with, is a state that has allowed its public to dictate too much in the past and a present that is far behind in terms of gambling legislation. This means that although gambling is by and large illegal, loopholes are there to ensure some taxes are collected instead of crossing the border.

Casinos are illegal, yet Casino cruises operate, having the jurisdiction of international waters to hide behind. Although, these are limited to Myrtle Beach in Little Rock, SC, and operated by only a handful of companies.

Sports betting, Poker, dog racing and table games are all illegal and heavy fines are imposed. But, where it gets a little hazy again is that current legislation hasn’t quite caught up with online gambling boom and therefore, they are not precisely specified in judicial records.

What is Allowed?

Never fear, bingo is here. The law of South Carolina does allow bingo halls to operate as a form of charitable gambling. The Department of Revenue Bingo Licensing and Enforcement Unit was set up to ensure no commercial bingo halls were in operation and online sites are also frowned upon, again that semi-grey area. Similar like lottery, bingo can also cause behavioral issues.

The Casino Cruises we mentioned early, operating from Myrtle Beach, are the only allowed casinos in the state. You need to book a cruise which will take you out into the Atlantic and no cards shuffled or dice thrown until you hit international waters. An entrance fee is charged, and only one of two companies are allowed the right to operate these boats. Sounds, again, just a little medieval, and ripe for some back handing money into someone’s pocket – very little can be done to address the issues of player protecton.

And finally, lotteries are big entertainment here and operated by the state. These are restricted to government run enterprises, can not include any keno or video lotteries and the majority of the proceeds are pumped into education. Tickets can be purchased at all good convenience stores.

And then there’s online gambling, right? Technically, any gambling mentioned in the legislature is illegal, only that piece of law was written over twenty years ago and is very specific to all the places gambling cannot be played. These include gas stations, bars, restaurants etc., but do not mention the internet. But again, playing online is a crime in SC, so anyone caught can be prosecuted. And no, that doesn’t make any sense, but that’s where we are at.

What Does the Future Hold?

Like most states, gambling is seen as too big a money-spinner to keep in the dark. And money is the main driving force of all things political these days. So can we see gambling being re-introduced into SC anytime soon?

The short term will be no, but eventually, good sense will prevail and some up to date legislature will be redrafted to include the regulation of all things gambling. As shown in many other states, there can be a good balance reached so people are free to do what they want but help is at hand when needed. Any current, on-going bills have tended to get caught up in the system and pushed to the side, like fantasy sports.

We often look up to Europe to sensible social policy. Maybe casino regulation is another sector where we could learn something. Most recently Germany came to similar conclusions – regulated market is better for protection of the players. They have regulated the amount one can deposit and wager. They have also instituted curbs on bonuses and bonus terms. If you take a look at bonuses on CasinoPilot24, which is one of premiere casino resources in the country, you will see that there are still attractive offers at hand. So – regulation works, for both players and the government.

In the meantime, a road trip to Atlanta could certainly be on the cards (pun intended), for those that don’t have the stomach for an international water, casino cruise.

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