South Carolina is Closely Watching Launch of North Carolina Online Sports Betting

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Apr 9, 2024 08:00 PM
South Carolina is Closely Watching Launch of North Carolina Online Sports Betting

Could 2024 be the year that the South Carolina sports betting discussion gets off the ground? The answer may hinge on the rollout of North Carolina sports betting.

As direct neighbors, the results of sports gambling in North Carolina were always going to have some impact on what happens in The Palmetto State. South Carolina doesn’t have any pro sports teams in their market, but that’s part of the relationship with North Carolina. Residents from each state often root for the same teams.

Proponents of sports betting in South Carolina have, as a result, been hoping state officials would view the North Carolina sports betting launch as an inspiration that would drive discussion. That is still the overarching hope. But will sports betting in North Carolina be available to the public long enough to inspire and impact a 2024 South Carolina sports betting bill?

North Carolina Sports Betting Delay Could Have Impact on South Carolina Sports Betting Discourse

Advocates for the legalization of South Carolina sports betting initially thought (hoped?) that North Carolina would debut their gambling operations before the end of 2023. This way, there would be some type of sample to cite when the South Carolina legislature met at the beginning of January 2024.

However, it soon became clear the North Carolina rollout process would take longer. Officials eventually targeted January 8, 2024 as the date in which North Carolina sports betting would go live. Given that the South Carolina legislature tends to convene on the second Tuesday of each January, this created a tight, potentially unworkable timeline. And now, as it turns out, North Carolina sports betting may not even be live once the South Carolina legislature meets. Bill Speros of has further details:

“The committee charged to oversee North Carolina mobile sports betting made it clear this week that mobile sports betting in the Tar Heel state will not be launching on January 8, the day it becomes legal along with pari-mutuel wagering…The North Carolina Lottery Commission's Sports Betting Committee member Ripley Rand and Deputy Executive Director Gaming Compliance and Sports Betting Sterl Carpenter said multiple steps are necessary to license and approve operators before any wagers can be made at a meeting on Tuesday. Many of those steps cannot be taken until the law that allows sports betting and pari-mutuel wagering goes into effect in January. ‘Betting will not begin on January 8,’ Carpenter said.”

If the North Carolina sports betting timeline is pushed back towards February 2024 or later, it will not be part of any discussions taking place in the South Carolina legislature. And that’s assuming talks take place at all.

Is South Carolina Planning to Address Sports Betting During 2024 Legislative Meetings?

While no official agenda for next year’s legislative meetings has been released, there doesn’t appear to be much traction for a South Carolina sports betting bill. That would have remained true even if the North Carolina sports betting launch wasn’t delayed. But active operations in the former would have at least served as a point of reference. Now, however, the issue will require a more deliberate push from supporters.

At the moment, it isn’t clear whether South Carolina sports betting has the advocates necessary to force meaningful discussions in the House of Representatives and Senate. Part of that is because of Governor Henry McMaster. He remains one of the staunchest opponents of sports betting legalization in South Carolina. During his last re-election campaign, he ran on a platform that explicitly denounced sports gambling practices. His reasoning has never been made totally clear, but in general, his belief seems to be that sports betting doesn’t align with South Carolina’s core values. (Whatever that means.)

Others have openly wondered whether the lack of pro sports teams has hurt South Carolina sports betting chances. Though you don’t need in-state franchises to fuel gambling interest, pro sports teams are often a big part of the legalization push. 

Just look at the ongoing attempt to legalize sports betting in Texas. Some of the most ardent proponents have been Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. The optimism surrounding the prospective legalization of Minnesota sports betting in 2024 has in part been driven by the advocacy and actions taken by pro sports teams inside the market.

The discourse in South Carolina lacks that element. That’s why the North Carolina sports betting launch was considered paramount, if only as a conversation-driver.

All Hope is Not Lost in the South Carolina Sports Betting Discussion

Despite a relative lack of momentum, the odds of South Carolina sports betting legalization are far from dead. Experts throughout the industry have noted they believe it’s an inevitability.

There was also some headway made in the South Carolina House of Representatives during the last round of meetings. Members considered a bill that would allow online sportsbooks in the United States to enter the market. It was a setup not unlike sports betting in Tennessee. The Volunteer State legalized online-only wagering years ago and has fared quite well. Since debuting in the spring of 2019, online sports betting in Tennessee has generated over $177 million in tax revenue.

Ultimately, though, the South Carolina online sports betting bill never made it that far. And like we said, it’s not clear whether another will be on next year’s agenda.

Still, the presence of one in 2023 counts as progress. And while a successful North Carolina sports betting launch would have helped further the discussion, South Carolina sports betting hopes remain loosely alive even without it. 

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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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