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South Carolina Sports Betting: Hardline Definitions

South Carolina citizens are going to have to wait to legally bet on sports. In 2017 a bill was introduced that would have legalized sports betting in the Gamecock state. Well…sort of. The bill was attached with restrictive amendments that would only have allowed, “sports betting on professional sports,” with any betting regulated to “strictly” limited and “specified” establishments. South Carolina currently defines gambling as, “betting money on the outcome of any ‘game,’ regardless of the skill involved in the game.” Not only that, but the current law has a prohibition specifically regarding betting on games of, “billiards, bowls, backgammon, chess, draughts, [and] or whist.” This is, of course, a law passed in 1962, but still in effect today. South Carolina doesn’t take kindly to money exchanging hands for ANY type of game.

In 2019 a new sports gambling bill was introduced at the beginning of the legislative session. In fact, three bills were introduced in 2019 regarding sports gambling and gaming in The Palmetto State. Two were Joint Resolutions originating in the Senate while the third took form in a House Joint Resolution. Let’s break down SJR57 and SJR71 first.

SJR57 basically broke it down to legalizing sports betting on horse racing and in particular ONLY “professional” sports gambling. This would likely rule out college sports gambling dependent upon the definition of “professional” in the law and how courts would interpret that wording. The bill would also legalize card and dice games along with all other casino activities that are normally associated with those establishments. The revenue would go towards the state retirement fund and well as any revenue, “realized above the amount necessary to achieve and maintain that ratio shall be deposited in the state’s general fund.” That ration refers to earlier wording in the document dealing with, “the actuarial value of the state’s assets to the actuarial accrued liability of the systems that is equal to or greater than ninety percent…” The bill was referred to the Committee on Judiciary and Introduced and read for the first time on January 8th, 2019. Senator Gerald Malloy (D) was the only sponsor of the bill.

SJR71 was proposed to simply set up a “gambling study committee,” in order to examine the pros and cons of the institution on the state. This would create a membership, duties, staffing and other responsibilities of the study committee. The committee would have had up to January 31, 2020, to report their findings. After that date, the committee would have been dissolved. Once again, Senator Gerald Malloy (D) was the only sponsor and the bill was referred to the same committee and Introduced and read for the first time on January 8th, 2019. Nothing has become of the SJR bills since.

HJR3409 was also referred to the Committee on Judiciary and Introduced and read on January 8th, 2019. The bill was a copy of SJR57 in wording and the application of the law. The sponsors were Rep. J. Todd Rutherford (D), the primary sponsor, and Rep. Kambrell H. Garvin (D).

I believe South Carolina is going to have issues with passing sports betting laws until some sort of bipartisan support comes for a bill. Other states in the south have been able to get support across the aisle, and for whatever reason, good or bad, South Carolina is having trouble finding that support.

Jonathan Howard
Jonathan Howard
Jonathan is an expert who gives unparalleled advice when it comes to the NBA, NFL and college sports. His slogan is "Eye Test Sports Without Stats" and that's exactly what you are going to get here. No fancy stats, just observation and analysis!