While online NC sports betting is near reality, industry stakeholders suggest SC sports betting is still a ways off.
Multiple industry sources tell LSR legislators will continue discussing SC sports betting, but it stands little chance of passing. That comes as North Carolina sports betting must start by June 14, 2024; however, regulators have already ruled out a launch before Super Bowl betting.
There is a comprehensive sports betting and horse racing bill, HB 3749, sitting in a House committee as the legislative session starts today.
“The support is really soft, even with NC legalizing,” one industry source said. “That certainly helps, but it could take another year, even though they’re in the second year of the session, and pick up where they left off last year. There is some real ‘disenchantment’ with some incumbents who are making a lot of asks and annoying lawmakers.”
What is blocking SC sports betting?
Perhaps the most significant obstacle is Gov. Henry McMaster, who campaigned against gambling in South Carolina. McMaster is in office until 2027.
Otherwise, conservative objections are keeping many politicians at odds with the issue, according to sources. The opposition is so strong the state is not even on the radar for some industry lobbyists this session.
“South Carolina can fall victim to what we’re hearing in Georgia, that it’s not a good year and to not do it during an election year,” one industry source said.
The only legalized gambling in South Carolina is the South Carolina Education Lottery.
Neighbor states will continue to influence
Once North Carolina goes live, many South Carolinians will have easy access to sports betting, as the Charlotte metro area spills over into the Palmetto State. That potential loss in tax dollars could sway some lawmakers, according to Mark Nagel, a sports management professor at University of South Carolina.
“As surrounding states permit more sport gambling activity, the likelihood of South Carolina making legalization a higher priority increases,” Nagel told LSR. “Often, potential tax dollars and constituent anger can override some, legitimate or unfounded, moral objections. Certainly, if Georgia were to legalize more gambling opportunities, that would likely also spur a move toward South Carolina legalization.
“Though many specifics are still unknown, having North Carolina more open to sports gambling likely moves South Carolina toward legalization at a quicker pace than otherwise would have occurred.”
What about Georgia sports betting?
As Nagel said, Georgia legalization could also help spur action by South Carolina lawmakers. But if legislators are waiting for Georgia, it could still be a while.
Despite several strong efforts in the past few years, industry sources are cold on Georgia heading into 2024.
The strong divide between Republicans and Democrats in the state will likely derail the issue of sports betting again, according to multiple sources.
What is in SC sports betting bill
The live bill would legalize up to eight sports betting apps.
Legislation would designate a license to NASCAR and the PGA Tour. The other licenses would be available to operators active in at least five other states.
South Carolina would levy a 10% tax on sports betting revenue.