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South Carolina Gambling

South Carolina

If you’re looking for a state with a roaring gaming industry, South Carolina is not it. You won’t find a single casino anywhere in the state, and other than one limited Native American facility, the only way to place a bet (outside of some charitable initiatives) is through the state lottery. With a very conservative culture and an old anti-gambling framework in place, this isn’t likely to change anytime soon.

The story is largely the same when it comes to the online world. With many government officials strongly opposed to the idea, it’s unlikely that regulation will appear in the foreseeable future, meaning that playing through offshore sites will be the only option for players here.

Limited Options for Gaming

If you want to gamble in South Carolina, you’re largely out of luck. That’s not to say that there’s no way to place bets here – there are a few select options out there even in the absence of casinos. But even as many other conservative parts of America have begun to embrace the tax revenues that can be derived from gambling expansion, South Carolina has maintained its hardline stance (for the most part).

One form of gaming that is offered is a lottery, though even on this we were late adopters. Founded in 2002, the state approved the lottery specifically to help fund educational efforts – so much so that is even named the South Carolina Education Lottery. There are local drawings that can be played, along with the popular multistate games such as Mega Millions, Powerball, and Lucky For Life.

There is also some Indian gaming here too, though this is extremely limited. South Carolina has only one federally-recognized Native American tribe: the Catawba Indian Nation. Given the lack of games throughout the state, the Catawba have been fairly limited in what they can offer without signing a compact with the government.

In 1993, however, the tribe did reach a settlement that allowed them to run two bingo halls throughout the state. For a time, a bingo parlor in Rock Hill was highly successful, but once the lottery went into operation, profits declined. The site would eventually close in 2006.

Since then, the tribe considered trying once again, and in 2014, Catawba High Stakes Bingo reopened to the public. Once again located in Rock Hill, the facility is open only from Friday to Sunday each week, offering games for about 13 hours a day (with a shortened scheduled on Sundays).

Beyond those offerings, there is also a limited amount of charitable gaming allowed here. Typically, only bingo is available, under the provisions set out in the 1996 Bingo Tax Act. In addition, there is limited horse racing, but that is also generally held for the benefit of local organizations: for instance, there is an annual steeplechase race called the Carolina Cup that benefits the Kershaw County Medical Center. However, parimutuel wagering is not permitted.

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Online Gambling Unlikely to Flourish Here

Given that we’ve just outlined how little brick-and-mortar gaming is offered in South Carolina, we’re confident you won’t be surprised to hear that there aren’t any plans to regulate Internet casinos either. In fact, there has been some outright hostile rhetoric towards online casinos in general here: Governor Nikki Haley was one of the more prominent politicians to ally herself with Sheldon Adelson’s campaign to ban online gambling at the federal level.

However, these stances haven’t stopped many South Carolinians from using online gambling sites. Many overseas operators regard the state as a grey market and as a result they are willing to take local players. As there are no laws criminalizing banning us from using these sites, we can freely play at them without any legal repercussions.


Changes Unlikely, But Some Efforts Being Made

Given how entrenched the anti-gambling sentiment is in South Carolina, it seems unlikely that gaming expansion will take place here anytime soon. However, that doesn’t mean that efforts aren’t being made to change this. In early 2015, a bill to amend the state constitution in order to allow gambling activities in “specified areas of the state” was introduced to the General Assembly, though it didn’t get anywhere. There is also some belief that if nearby Georgia moves ahead with its plans to potentially welcome resorts to Atlanta and other locations, that this might pressure the Palmetto State to also engage in its own expansion – even if it isn’t nearly as ambitious as its southern neighbor.

But it’s hard to see how even this rosy scenario would extend to the world of online gambling. For those in South Carolina who wish to play at virtual casinos, it will almost certainly be a very long time before they have locally-regulation options to choose from, though the overseas sites aren’t likely to go away, either.

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