South Carolina Sports Betting May Hinge on North Carolina Legal Gambling Decision

South Carolina Sports Betting May Hinge on North Carolina Legal Gambling Decision

When it comes to states in the U.S. legalizing sports betting, not enough attention is paid to how neighboring policies can impact the results of local governments on the fence. Sports betting in New York received a boon in support once New Jersey gave the green light. Texas is under immense pressure to legalize sports betting in the coming years when so many states around them have done the same. And now, sports betting in South Carolina similarly hinges on what happens with legal gambling in North Carolina.

Experts have called this the "political peer pressure" phenomenon. The best way to push those on the fence with legal sports betting past their concerns is to gesture towards surrounding states that have already installed it. Undecided states don't want to fall behind the curve, miss out on potential revenue or they simply see that sports gambling is already working for their closest peers and have more confidence in following their lead.

Of course, this only holds weight if states where betting isn't legal are ensconced by those that have okayed it. South Carolina isn't yet in that boat. North Carolina still needs to take the plunge. But if they do, it could prove to be an historical moment for South Carolina themselves.

How North Carolina Impacts South Carolina Sports Betting

South Carolina is situated right next to Georgia, which is widely expected to legal sports betting in the next year or two. It is also just below Tennessee, which has already rolled out online gambling. Furthermore, South Carolina sits just above Florida, as well—a state that legalized sports betting only to repeal it, but one that is still expected to have it again at some point.

This means that South Carolina is quite literally enveloped by states that have given the stamp of approval to some form of legal sports betting—with the exception of North Carolina. If the latter winds up changing their stance, South Carolina will then be an anomaly in the southeastern quarter of the United States.

"Why does this matter?" you might ask. It's a fair question. The best way to frame it: This is an access issue.

Despite South Carolina sports betting remaining illegal, the state isn't actually preventing residents from wagering. For starters, there are plenty of reputable sites from our reviews of the top online sportsbooks that will allow people from South Carolina to make an account and bet on sports. Beyond the online alternatives at their disposal, South Carolina residents can also just journey across state lines to Tennessee or, soon enough, George to gamble on sports. Heck, even Virginia, West Virginia and Mississippi are within reasonable driving distance from South Carolina, and all three of them have set up legal sports betting.

This is all to say that people who hail from South Carolina will have no trouble finding ways to wager on their favorite leagues and events. And knowing that they're spending hundreds of millions each year on out of market wagering, the state government could theoretically be more inclined to legal sports betting within South Carolina rather than see that money head elsewhere.

Will North Carolina Put Pressure on South Carolina?

Everything we just laid out only tracks if North Carolina legalizes sports betting. And as we already know, that isn't happening in 2022.

The latest North Carolina sports betting initiative, SB 688, failed to pass during the most recent legislative sessions. However, there was plenty of dialogue on the subject, and the North Carolina General Assembly did pass SB 38, a proposal that doesn't legalize sports betting but allows it to be discussed and voted upon outside legislative sessions and elections years.

This is, in no uncertain terms, a huge development. The next legislative sessions aren't until 2023, and after 2022, the next major state elections will be held in 2024. Passing SB 38, then, gives North Carolina a ton of flexibility when it comes to tackling the issue of sports betting.

Not only that, but the state is already taking advantage of it. Though the General Assembly isn't expected to cover sports betting again this year, they have already input some key amendments that would evolve SB 38 into a full-fledged sports betting initiative. Sports betting experts and insiders believe there's a reasonable chance North Carolina both approves and rolls out legal gambling before the end of 2023—which would, in turn, put South Carolina on the clock.

South Carolina Sports Betting May Not Hinge on North Carolina After All

If you're in South Carolina and this all sounds exciting to you, then you're about to be flat-out ecstatic: South Carolina sports betting is not only beholden to what happens in North Carolina.

South Carolina has their own betting initiative, HB 5277, that has already received tons of support throughout the House of Representatives and Senate. The bill failed to make it through the most recent legislative sessions and on the November 2022 ballots, but the wide-spread bi-partisan endorsements it has garnered in the past few months has many optimistic that South Carolina sports betting will come no later than the end of 2023.

By this timeline, there's a chance South Carolina legalizes sports betting even before North Carolina. Still, if you live in South Carolina, you should be rooting for North Carolina to take advantage of the flexibility afforded by SB 688 and to legalize sports betting as soon as possible. Coupled with what's expected to happen in Georgia soon, this would all but guarantee South Carolina makes a more concerted effort rework their gambling policies.

Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can find one that works for all of your sports betting needs: