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Gambling Laws of South Carolina Legal State of Gambling

South Carolina stands out among states in the U.S. with some of the strictest laws regarding gambling. In a landscape where many regions have embraced various forms of gaming and betting, South Carolina remains unwavering in its opposition to both online casinos and tribal casinos, firmly declaring them illegal within its boundaries. Moreover, despite the widespread popularity of sports betting across the country, South Carolina has yet to legalize both in-person and online platforms for such activities. Recent legislative propositions have hinted at the potential for change, signaling a possible shift towards permitting sports betting in the future. This unique and steadfast approach to gambling regulation in South Carolina underscores a complex interplay between tradition, legal boundaries, and the evolving interests of the gambling community.

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Overview of Online Gambling in South Carolina

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In South Carolina, the prospects for legalizing any form of gambling, including online gambling, remain dim and highly improbable. The state maintains stringent regulations against gambling activities, establishing a stark contrast to other states that have gradually embraced various forms of gaming. South Carolina's aversion to gambling is so pronounced that it stands out as possibly the only state in the U.S. to have flirted briefly with the concept before swiftly retreating. This strict stance extends to online gambling and online casinos, both of which are explicitly prohibited by state laws.

The prohibition of online gambling in South Carolina prompts some individuals to seek alternative means, such as VPN (Virtual Private Network) casinos, to access online gaming platforms. However, it's crucial to note that while VPNs may bypass geographic restrictions and grant access to online casinos, engaging in such activities remains illegal within the state's boundaries. South Carolina's firm laws against gambling, both traditional and online, create significant hurdles for individuals seeking to participate in any form of gambling entertainment within its borders. As a result, the landscape of gambling in South Carolina remains heavily restricted, and the prospects for any relaxation of these laws in the foreseeable future appear bleak.

The Legal Gambling Status in South Carolina

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In South Carolina, limited forms of gambling, such as bingo and the state lottery, are permitted under specific regulations. Bingo games fall under charitable gaming laws and are allowed when conducted by registered charitable organizations. The South Carolina Education Lottery operates legally within the state, offering various games such as scratch-offs, draw games, and interstate lotto games. However, the legality of these forms of gambling remains confined within the boundaries of these specific activities, as the state maintains strict prohibitions against broader gambling ventures, including casinos, sports betting, and online gambling.

Type of Gambling Legal Status in South Carolina Description
Bingo Legal Permitted under charitable gaming laws by registered charitable organizations.
Lottery Legal State-operated games such as scratch-offs, draw games, and interstate lotto games managed by the South Carolina Education Lottery.
Casinos Illegal Prohibited, including both commercial and tribal casinos.
Sports Betting Illegal Not permitted, neither in-person nor online.
Online Gambling Illegal Prohibited, covering all forms of online betting, including online casinos, poker, and other gaming activities.
Poker Rooms Illegal Poker rooms, whether online or physical establishments, are not authorized.
Off-Track Betting Illegal Betting on horse races or other sporting events at off-track betting facilities is not allowed.
Raffles Legal (Limited) Permissible under specific conditions for charitable purposes, regulated by state laws.

License for Online Casinos in South Carolina

In South Carolina, the landscape surrounding casino licenses is notable for its absence due to strict prohibitions against casino gambling, both in physical and online forms. The state does not issue licenses for operating casinos, whether commercial or tribal, within its borders. This stringent stance against casinos originates from state laws that expressly forbid these establishments, viewing them as unsuitable for the state's social and economic fabric. Consequently, individuals or entities interested in establishing casinos within South Carolina lack the legal framework or opportunity to obtain licenses or official authorization to operate such gambling venues. This stringent approach extends to online casinos as well, wherein the state's laws explicitly prohibit any form of online gambling, including casino gaming. As a result, the absence of licenses for casinos in South Carolina reflects the state's unwavering commitment to maintaining strict regulations against gambling activities beyond those specifically permitted, such as bingo and the state-run lottery.

History and Timeline for South Carolina Online Gambling

South Carolina's gambling history reflects a unique trajectory marked by significant shifts in legislation and societal perceptions. In 1802, the state's legislature amended the constitution to outlaw all forms of gambling, setting a foundational precedent for stringent anti-gambling laws. However, a notable reversal occurred in the late 20th century when video game terminals gained immense popularity. Despite their widespread use, the South Carolina Supreme Court deemed these terminals unconstitutional in 1999, mandating their shutdown by June 2000. A tragic incident involving a baby's suffocation, linked to a mother engrossed in video poker, fueled public sentiment against these machines, contributing to the industry's abrupt disappearance that summer. This unprecedented retreat from gambling expansion represented a stark departure from the norm observed in other states, which typically embrace gambling gradually. Presently, South Carolina's stringent gambling statutes remain among the strictest in the nation. The state prohibits not only casinos but also horse tracks, dog tracks, pari-mutuel facilities, and even the possession of gambling devices or tables, regardless of their use in gambling promotion. Some of these laws predate the Civil War, reflecting a historical backdrop steeped in enduring anti-gambling sentiments that persist in the state's regulatory landscape today.

  • 1802: South Carolina Legislature amends its constitution, instituting a comprehensive ban on all forms of gambling within the state.
  • 1999: The South Carolina Supreme Court rules the use of popular video game terminals unconstitutional, leading to their mandated shutdown by June 2000.
  • 2007: The Catawba Tribe faces legal setbacks in their attempt to establish video gaming on tribal property within South Carolina.
  • 2009: Legal proceedings against five individuals accused of illegal gambling for playing poker in a private home result in their acquittal.
  • 2012: The State Supreme Court of South Carolina rules against the legality of social gambling.
  • 2015: Legislative efforts to introduce commercial casinos and broaden gambling options in the state fail to materialize.
  • 2017: A public opinion poll indicates nearly 70% of South Carolina residents support legalizing gambling if the revenue generated is allocated towards road repair and infrastructure.
  • 2021: Democrats propose bills aiming to legalize all forms of gambling, but these initiatives do not progress beyond the committee stage. Additionally, in July 2021, a study commences to explore the potential advantages of establishing a horse betting industry in South Carolina.

Legalization of Sports Betting in South Carolina

  • 2016: The state Legislature rejects a bill related to daily fantasy sports, leaving platforms like DraftKings and FanDuel operating in a legal gray area within South Carolina.
  • 2019: Efforts from both the House and Senate to legalize various forms of gambling, including casinos, dice games, and sports betting, fail to prompt substantive discussions or legislative progress.
  • 2021: HB 3395 is introduced, aiming to amend South Carolina's constitution to legalize sports betting, horse betting, and casino gaming. However, the bill receives only one reading and subsequently stalls after referral to the Committee on Judiciary.
  • 2022: HB 5277 is introduced, proposing the legalization of sports betting, including mobile sports betting, and gains bipartisan support. Despite this support, the bill fails to advance beyond the committee stage.
  • 2023: HB 3749 is introduced and presented in the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Revenue Policy. The bill is anticipated to undergo additional hearings before potentially proceeding to a full committee vote, representing a recent effort to advance discussions on legalizing certain forms of gambling, including sports betting, within South Carolina.

Legalization of Online Gambling in South Carolina

Online gambling remains prohibited in South Carolina. The state has maintained stringent regulations against all forms of online gambling, including online casinos, poker, sports betting, and other gaming activities. Despite occasional legislative proposals and discussions surrounding the potential expansion of gambling laws, including online gaming, no laws have been enacted to legalize online gambling within the state. South Carolina's stance on online gambling remains steadfast, reflecting a commitment to upholding some of the strictest gambling regulations in the United States.

Legal Gambling Forms in South Carolina

In South Carolina, certain limited forms of gambling are legally permitted. Bingo games, when conducted by registered charitable organizations, fall under the scope of permissible gambling activities in accordance with charitable gaming laws. The state operates a legal lottery known as the South Carolina Education Lottery, offering various games such as scratch-offs, draw games, and interstate lotto games. These sanctioned forms of gambling—bingo conducted by charities and the state-run lottery—stand as the sole authorized gambling activities within the boundaries of South Carolina's strict gambling regulations.

The legal gambling age in South Carolina for participating in the state lottery and charitable bingo games is 18 years old.

Mobile Casinos Icon

South Carolina Online Casinos

There is no legal online gambling allowed in South Carolina. South Carolina's gambling laws are some of the strictest in the nation.
Sports Betting Icon

South Carolina Sports Betting

Sports betting is not yet legal in South Carolina, but it is proposed for legislation.
poker

South Carolina Online Poker

There are no local legal forms of poker in South Carolina.
bingo icon

South Carolina Bingo

South Carolina allows​​ nonprofit organizations, licensed by the SCDOR, to legally operate bingo games to generate funds to support their charitable activities.
blackjack

South Carolina Blackjack

Playing Blackjack in South Carolina is legal only in social casinos.
lottery

South Carolina Lotteries

The only legal form of gambling in South Carolina is the lottery. People must be 18 years or older to participate in one of the state or national lotteries.
Horse Racing Icon

South Carolina Parimutuel Betting

Although South Carolinians can attend live horse racing meets held in the state, it's illegal under state law to offer pari-mutuel wagering on these races.
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South Carolina Prohibited Gambling Activities

In South Carolina, almost all forms of gambling are illegal, including casino-style gambling, sports betting, and horse racing. The state prohibits any activities involving games of chance or betting on uncertain outcomes.

Check Out These Online Casinos Available in South Carolina

Discover a variety of permitted online casinos accessible in South Carolina, where you have the freedom to select your preferred type of gambling entertainment. As part of the registration process within these platforms, age verification is a mandatory step to ensure compliance with legal betting age requirements. Choose from a diverse array of gambling options available at these authorized online casinos in South Carolina, all while undergoing the necessary verification to ensure a safe and lawful gaming experience.

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Legalization of Bingo in South Carolina

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Before the advent of casino cruises and the state lottery, South Carolina's foray into legalized gambling began with bingo in 1976. This marked the initial instance of legal gambling within the state, authorized under specific regulations and governed by charitable gaming laws. The legalization of bingo paved the way for a controlled form of gambling in South Carolina, setting a precedent for subsequent gambling-related developments in the state's evolving regulatory landscape. This milestone in 1976 represented a foundational step in introducing and regulating lawful gambling activities within South Carolina's strict legal framework.

Legalization of Blackjack in South Carolina

blackjack

In South Carolina, where gambling remains prohibited under stringent laws, the legalization of blackjack—being a casino card game—remains part of the broader scope of illegal gambling activities within the state. As casinos, both commercial and tribal, are not permitted within South Carolina's borders, table games like blackjack are consequently illegal under state law. The strict regulations against gambling encompass all forms of traditional casino gaming, including blackjack, thereby rendering its practice or operation unlawful within the state.

Legalization of Lotteries in South Carolina

Lottery Icon

The South Carolina Education Lottery stands as the singular legal lottery within the state, marking its inception following a closely contested public vote in 2000. The approval paved the way for the introduction of legal lottery games in 2002, marking a significant milestone in South Carolina's gambling landscape. Initially launched games like Carolina Riches, 3 Times Lucky, the Logo Game, and Scenic South Carolina became the pioneering offerings of the state's newly established lottery. This marked the commencement of legal lottery gaming within South Carolina, creating a regulated avenue for residents to engage in lottery-based entertainment while contributing to educational initiatives through the proceeds generated by the state-run lottery.

South Carolina Parimutuel Betting

Horse Racing Icon

On December 12, 2022, South Carolina witnessed a legislative move with the introduction of H 3095 aimed at potentially introducing a comprehensive array of gambling activities within the state. The bill sought to explore the legalization of pari-mutuel wagering on horse races, professional sports betting, and the inclusion of casino gaming. This proposed legislation signified a notable shift in the state's gambling landscape, contemplating the expansion of betting opportunities for residents, including previously prohibited forms of gambling such as horse race wagering and casino gaming. However, the bill's implications and prospects for advancing gambling reforms in South Carolina remained subject to debate, awaiting further deliberation and potential legislative action.

South Carolina Prohibited Gambling Activities

In South Carolina, stringent regulations dictate a comprehensive list of prohibited gambling activities. The state's laws unequivocally forbid various forms of gambling, encompassing both traditional and modern betting practices. Commercial and tribal casinos are strictly prohibited, barring any physical establishments offering casino games like blackjack, roulette, or slot machines. Additionally, sports betting, whether in-person or online, remains illegal, preventing any form of wagering on sporting events within the state's boundaries. Off-track betting, dog tracks, horse tracks, and pari-mutuel facilities are also expressly prohibited, further restricting opportunities for betting on races or sporting outcomes. Furthermore, the possession of gambling devices or tables, regardless of their use, is considered illegal under South Carolina law, maintaining a blanket prohibition against any form of gambling-related equipment. These stringent regulations create one of the most restrictive gambling environments in the United States, leaving only limited exceptions for authorized activities such as the state lottery and charitable bingo games.

Gambling in South Carolina – Licensing, Tax and Fees

Tax and Fees Icon

In South Carolina, gambling operations fall under the oversight of the South Carolina Education Lottery Commission, which governs and regulates permitted gaming activities in the state. The introduction of the new sports gambling bill, HB 5277, proposes a significant 10% tax rate on sports betting revenues, should the legislation be enacted. This proposed tax aims to generate revenue for the state while regulating and managing the burgeoning industry of sports wagering within South Carolina. Lottery winnings in the state are subject to a 7% tax rate, contributing to state funds and initiatives supported by the South Carolina Education Lottery. The taxation rates associated with gambling activities, including the proposed tax on sports betting and the existing tax on lottery winnings, serve as vital mechanisms for funding state programs and initiatives while establishing financial structures to oversee and maintain the integrity of legalized gambling activities within South Carolina's regulatory framework.

Important Questions for Gambling Laws of South Carolina

Is online gambling legal in South Carolina?

No, online gambling is not legal in South Carolina. The state upholds strict laws that explicitly prohibit various forms of online gambling, including online casinos, poker, sports betting, and other gaming activities conducted over the internet. South Carolina's regulations remain stringent against all types of online gambling, creating a landscape where engaging in such activities within the state's borders is considered illegal.

What is the minimum age requirement for engaging in online casinos, sports betting, and poker in South Carolina?

In South Carolina, where gambling, including online gambling, is prohibited, there are no legally sanctioned minimum age requirements for engaging in online casinos, sports betting, or poker within the state. Since these activities are illegal under state law, there are no established legal age limits for participation. However, in jurisdictions where online gambling is legal, the minimum age for participation typically ranges from 18 to 21 years old, depending on the specific type of gambling and the regulations of the particular region.

How does parimutuel betting work in South Carolina?

South Carolina does not have legalized parimutuel betting on horse racing or other forms of parimutuel wagering within the state. Parimutuel betting is a system where bets are pooled together, and the odds are determined by the total amount wagered on each outcome. Winnings are then calculated by dividing the total pool of bets, minus taxes and the house's take, among the winning bettors. In South Carolina, efforts have been made at times to introduce legislation related to parimutuel betting on horse racing. However, as of my last update, these efforts hadn't led to the legalization of such betting activities within the state. Therefore, at that time, parimutuel betting in South Carolina was not operational or legally permitted. It's essential to verify the current laws and regulations in South Carolina, as legislative changes can occur, potentially affecting the status of parimutuel betting within the state.

What types of gambling are legally permissible in South Carolina?

In South Carolina, legally permissible forms of gambling include lotteries and bingo.

Type of Gambling Legal Age Requirement Description
Lottery 18 State-operated games such as scratch-offs and lotto.
Bingo (Charitable) 18 Charitable organizations conduct bingo games.
Casino Gambling Not Legal Prohibited, including commercial and tribal casinos.
Sports Betting Not Legal Neither in-person nor online sports betting is legal.
Poker Not Legal Poker games, whether online or physical, are illegal.
Parimutuel Betting Not Legal Wagering on horse racing or similar events is illegal.
Online Gambling Not Legal All forms of online gambling are prohibited.

Which regulatory bodies oversee gambling activities in South Carolina?

In South Carolina, the oversight and regulation of permitted gambling activities fall under specific bodies and agencies:

  1. South Carolina Education Lottery (SCEL): The SCEL regulates and administers the state lottery, overseeing the various lottery games and ensuring compliance with established laws and regulations.
  2. Law Enforcement Agencies: Local law enforcement authorities are responsible for enforcing the state's gambling laws, including monitoring and taking action against illegal gambling activities.
  3. Legislature and State Government: The South Carolina Legislature shapes and determines gambling-related laws, discussing and proposing legislation that could potentially impact gambling regulations within the state.
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Jessica Bozukova | Senior Content Writer

Jessica is a skilled writer adept at crafting unique casino reviews, bonus pages, slot analyses, and exciting gaming news. Her expertise lies in delivering compelling content tailored for the avid gaming community.
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