A South Carolina sports betting bill began its uncertain legislative journey Thursday.
The bill (H.B. 3749) was read in House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Revenue Policy, where it should face a few more hearings before a full committee vote.
It would legalize up to eight SC sports betting apps, available to anyone 18 years or older and includes no prohibitions on college sports.
Tough road ahead for SC sportsbooks
This is South Carolina’s fourth time in five years considering a sports betting bill.
Gov. Henry McMaster has been a staunch opponent. Unless he changes his mind, the state may have a hard time legalizing sports betting, as he was just sworn into his second term in January.
A bill would have to get to his desk first and so far, no SC sports betting bill has made it beyond the committee stages of the legislative process.
NASCAR, PGA eligible for licenses
It was a relatively short meeting, despite subcommittee Chair Rep. Bruce Bannister saying he expected hours worth of testimony. Representatives from NASCAR and the PGA Tour were the only witnesses to testify.
Under the bill, each would be designated for one of the eight licenses because of their physical presence in the state. The other six licenses would be available only to operators already licensed in at least five other states, likely disqualifying newcomers Fanatics and Betr.
Financial impact of South Carolina sports betting
Each operator would pay $50,000 to apply for a license and an additional $450,000 should they receive one. If an application is denied, the initial fee would be refunded, according to the bill.
Operators would pay a 10% tax on revenue that could translate to $23 million annually for the state, bill sponsor Rep. Chris Murphy said.
Revenue would be split among three areas:
- 80% to the General Fund
- 15% to local governments
- 5% to administer responsible gaming oversight
Bill borrows from neighboring states
Murphy said his bill is modeled after Tennessee, where only online sports betting is legal. Neither state has land-based casinos. He added that it also borrows from North Carolina’s bill, which passed the state House on Wednesday.
Unlike Tennessee’s law, the SC sports betting bill would make 18 the legal betting age.
In most legal states, bettors have to be at least 21, though a few lottery-based jurisdictions like Washington D.C., Rhode Island and New Hampshire allow betting at 18.