As was noted in a look at ‘The 3 Best Casinos in South Carolina’ here previously, our state has particularly strong stances against online casino activity. While a lot of states have come to allow one activity or another — poker in some cases, sports betting in many — South Carolina has to date upheld restrictions against all forms of online gambling.
With that said, the tide is beginning to turn in favor of online gambling in the U.S. more broadly, and particularly on the East Coast. Numerous states have opened the doors to fairly complete online casinos, and the returns, in terms of general activity and state tax revenue, are becoming hard to overlook. The industry’s success was particularly eye-opening during the pandemic, though a recent article at U.S. News & World Report indicated that online casinos are staying strong even as ordinary commercial activity resumes. Citing New Jersey (where online gambling is particularly active), the article cited $108 million in internet casino revenue in April — up 35% from the same period in 2020.
This doesn’t mean that South Carolina will introduce its own online casinos anytime soon. But the more we see numbers like that, the harder it will be for lawmakers to resist the idea. That makes it worthwhile to at least begin to imagine what online casinos would bring to South Carolina. For those who may not be familiar with this particular type of entertainment, here are a few of the things we’d expect to see if and when our state ever gets on board.
Massive Slot Collections
The defining features of online casinos these days tend to be slot machines — and hundreds of them. In years past digital slots didn’t offer much variety to players. Over time however, developers have turned them from simple imitations of casino activity into vibrant and exciting video games. Top casino sites now boast hundreds of slot reels each, and those reels cover all sorts of interesting subject material. If and when full online casinos do come to South Carolina, these kinds of slot collections will almost certainly be attached.
Live Games & Shows
Today’s online casinos are also known for live casino games, which function almost like virtual reality connections to real casinos. Typically these experiences involve games like blackjack, poker, and roulette, and show players video feeds to live dealers who facilitate activity in real time. Of late however, a gameshow variety of the same concept has emerged as well. Specifically, Gala Casino’s games now include options like “Monopoly Live,” “Deal Or No Deal,” and “Adventures Beyond Wonderland” — all different gameshows that have been reshaped as interactive casino games. Because these are among the newest and most advanced online casino games, it’s likely they’d be prioritized by any sites setting up a new industry in South Carolina.
Slots might constitute the most popular and prevalent online casino activities, and live games the most cutting-edge, but rest assured online poker would be part of the equation as well. In fact, it may even be that South Carolina will eventually see isolated online poker platforms before full-fledged casinos. This is the route a handful of states, including even Nevada, have taken, and it appears to be a stepping stone toward broader casino activity.
Not unlike poker, sportsbooks have been among the first online casinos introduced in a handful of states. And in fact, sports betting activity has even evolved in many cases from daily fantasy — a sort of gambling-adjacent activity that is legal in South Carolina. The incentive for state governments in the case of sports betting is simply too clear to ignore. Per a Forbes assessment of illegal sports betting back in 2015, Americans at that time were wagering roughly $93 billion a year through illegal means — on NFL and NCAA football alone. Needless to say, a chunk of that number would inevitably have come from South Carolina, where college football is a way of life, and where many claim the Carolina Panthers as a home team (or simply follow the NFL in general). One wonders if at some point, state lawmakers will decide to capitalize on sports betting by legalizing and regulating it. Whether or not this would lead to further casino activity is hard to say.
Adaptation to New Technology
Finally, if we did see new online casinos in South Carolina, it would be wise to expect them to adapt and innovate. The gaming industry, and in some cases casino gaming specifically, tends to respond quickly to changes in technology. This means that what we see initially in hypothetical South Carolina casinos may evolve rapidly over time. Whether this means mobile augmented reality for slot reels, VR poker rooms, or something we can’t quite imagine yet, we can’t say. But there would be adaptation and evolution.
Right now we’re sort of in a strange place with all of this. Online casinos in South Carolina feel simultaneously like fantasies and inevitabilities. But we at least know what to expect if the laws ever change, and if they do we’ll bring you the news right here.
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