South Carolina Could Make History with Latest Legal Sports Betting Bill

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Sep 4, 2022 08:00 PM
South Carolina Could Make History with Latest Legal Sports Betting Bill

Legal sports betting is having a rough go throughout the southern United States. Many of the regions have rejected it outright, while others have dragged their feet when it comes to acknowledging or passing proposed legislation. Inevitably, though, there will be a breakthrough state that changes everything and creates a trickle-down effect. And South Carolina may just be that state if the current sports-betting legislature goes through.

Few have high expectations for legal sports betting in South Carolina. Relative to much of the south, their stance against online gambling is par for the course. Though sports betting is legal in the USA for 30 states, the majority of the south is still lagging behind. Places like North Carolina, Georgia, and even Florida, which had legal sports betting only to then revoke it, have yet to follow in the steps of many neighboring states.

All of which is why South Carolina could make history with their latest legal sports betting bill.

New Details of South Carolina Sports Betting Bill Emerge

While select South Carolina lawmakers moved to legalize sports betting earlier this spring, the details of their proposal, known as HB 5277, weren't fully known. It wasn't always clear what forms of sports betting would be greenlit. Some states, for example, have legalized sports gambling but not online, or they have prevented retail sportsbook operators from applying for gaming licenses, limiting that privilege to federally recognized tribes within the region.

We now know, however, that South Carolina's sports betting bill legalizes just about everything, almost beyond condition. Everything from esports betting and college sports betting to general online sports betting was included under HB 5277, making it a landmark proposal for the south.

Florida initially looked like it would be the primary trendsetter for southern states after they rolled out sports betting to close 2021. But their setup limited on-site and online betting to the Seminole tribe, closing the door to other sportsbook operators and any tribes who weren't affiliated with the Seminoles. As a direct result of this constrictive blueprint, legal sports betting was pulled from the state to begin 2022 and remains in limbo today, with many wondering whether anything will change prior to 2023.

This provides an opportunity to South Carolina to not only set a precedent throughout the south, but to establish a standard of open accessibility. When states like Georgia and North Carolina invariably address the issue of sports betting, it'll be much more likely they allow retail sportsbooks like DraftKings, FanDuel, Caesars and many others to operate throughout the state.

Of course, this all presumes South Carolina actually approves the latest sports betting bill...

Will South Carolina Pass HB 5277?

Skeptics will be quick to note that South Carolina has tried to legalize sports betting in the past, only for their attempted measures to fail. They will also point out that the incumbent governor, Henry McMaster, has been a strong opponent of sports betting.

And yet, there's a strong chance things could be different this time around.

For starters, and perhaps most importantly, HB 5277 is a big-partisan bill, which means it has the support of both major political parties. The proposal is being spearheaded by Representative William Herbkersman, a Republican, and Representative Todd Rutherford, a Democrat. While there are still partisan issues to figure out, the last attempt by South Carolina to legalize sports betting was met with far more dichotomy than this one.

McMaster can still throw a wrench in these plans at the state's governor. At the same time, even he may see his priorities change. McMaster is up for re-election in November, and with more sports betting support from the Republican side for this measure, he may be inclined to accept it himself. To top it off, the general population of South Carolina is believed to be largely in favor of legal sports betting, according to various conducted polls. That matters quite a bit as the November 2022 election nears. McMaster, it seems, can appeal to the vast majority of his constituents by putting his support behind HB 5277.

South Carolina Still Facing Roadblocks

At this point, the primary obstacle standing between South Carolina and legal sports betting appears to be the lack of precedent throughout the south. Many states in this region are reluctant to become the first to legalize sports betting in all possible forms. Florida's acceptance of legal sports betting helped a little, but even their model came with plenty of conditions. (It also didn't last.)

Whether South Carolina is prepared to make history with its sports betting bill remains to be seen. The proposal is aggressive even compared to some Northeast states, such as New York, that disallow betting on college sports. That could wind up being a deterrent.

Then again, signs are starting to point toward South Carolina actually making the leap. They have been on top of how much revenue they're currently missing out on because they aren't naive to how many residents are already placing bets. Our reviews of the top online sportsbooks alone have a handful of operators who will approve accounts registered by those located in South Carolina.

Beyond that, the details of HB 5277 suggest a level of higher commitment than your standard proposal. South Carolina included everything from how many sportsbook licenses they'd approve (12) to the specific distribution of funds raised from sports betting.

Perhaps this doesn't mean anything. Or maybe it means everything. At the very least, it implies South Carolina may be ready to make history with their sports betting bill.

Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can decide which one to use for all of your sports betting needs:

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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