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The Big “M”: A South Carolina Specialty



Each region of the US is known to have its own special piece of culture—strange and intriguing for visitors, but so standard for locals that no one bats an eye anymore. For example, the idea of a public restroom in New York City is the stuff of long-lost legends, while people from Saint Louis are more concerned about where someone went to high school than where they went to college.

For South Carolina natives, one of these invisible peculiarities might be the Big “M” yachts seen floating off-shore between North Myrtle Beach and Southport. Is it a bird, or a plane? No. It’s a floating casino, and it’s an SC specialty. The Big M remains South Carolina’s most popular casino, though there’s another venue in Greenville; Beach Billy’s Card Room and Video Poker Emporium.

For years, the Big “M” has been residents’ only option for gaming. However, now that sports betting has hit US markets, Indiana betting apps are a close option for SC residents looking to wager on sports in addition to playing card games and slots.

With new oddsmakers popping up in nearby legal state Indiana, it’s never been easier to learn the basics and find competitive offers—though residents will have to decide which team to back between Clemson, the Hornets, Hurricanes, or Panthers. (Pro tip: the Tigers are looking in peak condition once again.)

To date, the Big “M” doesn’t include a sportsbook, as South Carolina legislators have yet to determine regulations on sports betting. But with a longstanding history with gamers in Little River and beyond, it could be possible that retail oddsmakers set up shop on one of the yachts.

History of the Big M

Though locals may be familiar with the site of the extravagant and clean yachts (the Big “M” owns two) cruising up and down the coast, there’s not likely any action occurring while the boat is near the coast. To comply with regulations, the company waits until the yacht is in international waters before commencing gaming.

As mentioned above, the Indiana betting app is just one of many new features being rolled out for gamers looking to punt around the country. However, the Big “M”, as a live gaming experience, is bound to different guidelines.

In cities like Charleston, jazz performances, historical tours, and even ghost hunting events often attract tourists. Meanwhile, areas like Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head Island are some of the most idyllic summer vacation spots in the US. However, the Big “M” is one of the most unique attractions the state has to offer.

The cruise ships offer table games like blackjack, craps, roulette, and 3-card poker, as well as over 100 slot machines on each ship (178 on Ship 1 and 248 on Ship 2). Each cruise lasts around five hours, and some include live entertainment and special dining experiences. One major appeal is the large decks, which allow guests to take in the amazing views before counting their chips.

North America’s Casino Boat Legacy

Though the Big “M” offers one of the most unique experiences for those visiting or living in South Carolina, the idea of a floating casino isn’t new. Throughout the country, laws prohibiting or regulating where and how casinos could touch down meant some companies got creative.

In particular, the Mississippi River became home to the US’s riverboat casino phenomenon. In states like Iowa, Missouri, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana, antiquated casinos still sit alongside the river. Though technically constructed on the water, most casinos functioned as ‘legal fiction’, which meant the businesses were technically water-bound, though the boats were non-functioning.

In most of these areas, brick-and-mortar casinos have taken over for riverboat establishments (often the same company simply moving shop). However, many beloved riverboat casinos, such as the Amelia Belle of Louisiana, remain popular destinations for locals and tourists. In addition to the standard fare of table games and slots, riverboats are chances to get out on the water, combining an adventure experience with gaming.

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