South Carolina, Minnesota Lawmakers Take Fresh Shot at Legal Sports Betting With New Bills

  • A public vote would need to take place in South Carolina to legalize sports betting
  • Gambling expansion in South Carolina reportedly has bipartisan support this time
  • The main proposal in Minnesota would allow for both online and retail sports betting
  • Previous legalization efforts in Minnesota faced opposition from lawmakers, tribes
Person writing a piece of legislation
Minnesota and South Carolina lawmakers are making fresh attempts to legalize sports betting. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Making another push

Lawmakers in South Carolina and Minnesota are making a fresh push to legalize sports betting. Previous attempts to do so in both states have proven unsuccessful, but betting proponents are optimistic of a different result this time around.

would put the question of gambling expansion to a public vote

A proposal in South Carolina would put the question of gambling expansion to a public vote if it makes it through the legislature. A state constitutional amendment is needed before lawmakers can expand gambling laws to include a betting market.

Meanwhile, the main proposal in Minnesota would see tribes given control of an online sports betting market, with retail sportsbooks also permitted. All of Minnesota’s neighboring states already have some sort of legal sports betting.

Bipartisan support in South Carolina

South Carolina Representative Todd Rutherford filed HB 3395 on Monday. It proposes a state constitutional amendment that would allow for the legalization of sports betting, card games, pari-mutuel racing betting, dice games, and electronic gaming devices. Senator Gerald Malloy filed a similar bill in the Senate.

Rutherford is optimistic about the proposal’s chances, pointing towards bipartisan support and the rapidly growing popularity of sports betting. He believes South Carolina residents are already taking part in illegal gambling activities and that the state can benefit through legalization.

Gambling laws have remained very restrictive in South Carolina over the years. Currently, the only form of legal gambling is the state lottery.

Those in favor of legalizing sports betting believe that annual tax revenue from the activity could reach $40m. Some major companies have lobbied for legalization, including MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment.

Minnesota lawmakers file bills

On Wednesday, Minnesota lawmakers outlined a new bipartisan effort to legalize sports betting. Previous efforts proved unsuccessful due to a lack of support in the legislature and opposition from tribes. With two respective bills, Senator Roger Chamberlain is leading the push in the Senate, while Representative Zack Stephenson is doing so in the House.

Chamberlain believes sportsbooks could launch in the fall of 2023

Chamberlain believes that his proposal is good for all parties, including consumers, racetracks, and tribes. The bill would allow online betting, along with retail wagering at the two racetracks in the state and tribal casinos. The tribes would have control over online licensing and issue sub-licenses to other gaming vendors. If the proposal gets support and Governor Tim Walz signs it into law, Chamberlain believes sportsbooks could launch in the fall of 2023.

Representative Stephenson crafted his bill following conversations with Minnesota’s professional sports teams, sportsbook operators, the University of Minnesota, and the 11 tribes in the state. He expects the bill to get a hearing with the House Commerce Committee, of which he is currently chair, next month.