South Carolina Senator Pre-files Sports Betting Bills
A pair of sports betting bills have been pre-filed in the South Carolina Senate. Gambling has been banned there since 1802. Currently the only legalized gambling allowed in the state is the state lottery; raffles for charitable gambling was not allowed until 2015 and until 2014 it was illegal for seniors to play bridge.
According to a 2017 Oxford Economics study, online/mobile sports betting could generate $3.2 billion in annual handle and $215 million in tax revenue. The study also indicated sports betting would have an economic impact of $240 million a year and create 2,600 new jobs.
State Senator Gerald Malloy’s bill, S 57, would amend the state constitution to allow sports betting and “casino activities.” It’s enabling legislation that would remove the constitutional ban on gambling, so sports betting amendments could be presented to voters. The issue would be on the ballot in the “next general election for representatives.”
Malloy also pre-filed S 71, which would create a South Carolina Gambling Study Committee comprised of state officials who would review “regulating gambling.” The bill would require the study committee to report its findings to the legislature on or before January 31, 2020. According to the bill, the group would look at “the various forms of gambling, including casinos, slots, table games, horse and dog racing, sports betting and internet gaming” for South Carolina.
Republican Governor Henry McMaster, who won re-election last month with 54 percent of the vote, has said gambling “flies in the face of everything South Carolina stands for.” Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey stated, “Just because we can get money out of it doesn’t mean we need to do it.” U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham said he plans to ask the incoming U.S. Attorney General to make online casino gaming illegal.
Democratic state Rep. Wendell Gilliard has noted the illegal South Carolina sports betting market may be more than $2 billion annually, including March Madness brackets and other office sports watering pools. Another supporter is Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper, who commented, “Eventually it’s going to hit North and South Carolina. It has to, from a revenue standpoint. You have issues with paying teachers and other things down here, and tax revenue so it’s inevitable.”