Delayed North Carolina Gambling Launch Could be Bad News for South Carolina Sports Betting

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Apr 9, 2024 08:00 PM
Delayed North Carolina Gambling Launch Could be Bad News for South Carolina Sports Betting

The future of South Carolina sports betting is shrouded in mystery. Never mind full-blown legalization. It’s impossible to discern whether debating the topic is even a priority entering January 2024 legislature meetings. 

To be bluntly honest, pessimism has generally permeated the outlook of sports betting in South Carolina. Governor Henry McMaster has staunchly opposed legal gambling each and every year. Some have suggested his stance isn’t as hardline as advertised. But his last election campaign was run with decidedly anti-gambling slants. It also says a whole lot that despite 35-plus states legalizing some form of sports betting, South Carolina’s numerous bills and proposals have been unable to make it past the Senate.

Enter sports betting in North Carolina

As the neighbor to which South Carolina is so frequently tied, The Tar Heel State’s legalization of sports betting was seen as a flash bulb moment. Initially, they were scheduled to debut sports betting in North Carolina on January 8, 2024. Industry insiders fully recognized that South Carolina would watch the launch of the North Carolina sports betting like a hawk. Though it’s impossible to say how The Tar Heel State might impact South Carolina’s stance, the prospect of residents from The Palmetto State flocking north of the border to bet on sports was seen as a potential impetus for meaningful change.

That’s why the North Carolina sports betting launch is so important to South Carolina. And the sooner they can see how it goes, the more likely it is for discussion to take place. But unfortunately, the debut of North Carolina sports betting has been delayed a second time. We’re here to discuss how that might influence the future of South Carolina sports betting—or lack thereof.

North Carolina Sports Betting Won’t Launch in Time for Super Bowl 58…Here’s What That Means for South Carolina

The Tar Heel State made it clear weeks ago that they wouldn’t launch sports betting in time for their target date of January 8, 2024. But the hope was that they’d have services up and running in time for betting on Super Bowl 58

As it turns out, though, that’s just not going to happen. From Joe Bruno of WSOC-TV in Charlotte: 

“There will be no legal mobile sports betting in North Carolina on the Super Bowl, according to Lottery Commission Chair Ripley Rand. ‘We see questions about whether sports betting will be up and running in time for the Super Bowl,’ he said. ‘It’s clear, however, with all the work remaining to be done and the timetable set out in state law that unfortunately won’t be the case.’ Rand says the commission expects to announce in early 2024 a launch date.

This is a major blow for both residents of North Carolina and South Carolina. Experts fully anticipated South Carolinians would cross state lines to bet on the Super Bowl in North Carolina. Many have also projected some would travel to The Tar Heel State on a regular basis. And experts all but guaranteed South Carolinians would head to North Carolina in attempts to create accounts with online sportsbooks in the United States. Those options now won’t be available to those in The Palmetto State.

South Carolina officials against sports betting clearly won’t care. But members of the House of Representatives and Senate looking to drive discussion will have a harder time doing so. Without a North Carolina betting sample to cite, South Carolina won’t have data that’s as germane to the region. And depending on how long this delay lasts, it could set back sports betting hopes in The Palmetto State by years.

A Delay in North Carolina Sports Betting Could Push Back the Legal Gambling Timeline for South Carolina 

We’re not being hyperbolic when we say years. The South Carolina legislature is scheduled to meet on January 9, 2024 and adjourn on May 6, 2024. If North Carolina sports betting hasn’t launched by then, it’ll be tough for new and effective arguments to be made by South Carolina officials.

Of course, at first glance, this seems to give The Palmetto State plenty of time. The adjournment date is roughly five months away at this writing. However, it takes a while for sports betting tax revenue data to accumulate. For example, if North Carolina sports betting winds up launching on March 1, the first round of concrete returns may not drop until May 1. That’s just five days before the South Carolina legislature adjourns. And that’s not nearly enough time to cobble together a meaningful discussion.

To that end, if a South Carolina sports betting bill doesn’t make it out of the Senate by the end of the legislature sessions, there won’t be an initiative on the 2024 general election ballot. Assuming that’s the case, the earliest a South Carolina sports betting proposal could appear on another general election ballot is November 2026. By that point, then, the earliest South Carolina sports betting could feasibly debut is 2027 or 2028. 

This will be much ado about nothing if The Palmetto’s interest in sports betting has nothing to do with the eventual results in North Carolina. But that’s not how this works. Neighboring states often influence the policies of those around them. Sports betting in North Carolina should be no different. At the very least, it adds another layer to a stale discussion in South Carolina. For the moment, though, it looks like that layer will remain buried, leaving the folks in SC to put the discussion on hold until 2025 or later.

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Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan Favale leverages over 12 years of sports journalism expertise in his role as New York staff writer. He provides in-depth analysis across the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, tennis, NASCAR, college basketball, and sports betting. Dan co-hosts the popular Hardwood Knocks NBA podc...

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