South Carolina Should Be Eying Success Of Legal Sports Betting Elsewhere

It’s not that South Carolina has a bad economy, but it doesn’t have a sprawling one either. It’s dead center — literally. Out of the 50 states, South Carolina’s GDP is ranked 25th in terms of per capita. Not good, not bad, just there, essentially.

Now if South Carolina lawmakers and local figures with influence were smart, there’d be one clear-cut option to boost the state’s economy — taxing sports betting. One, it’s low-hanging fruit because it’s not hard to set up. Two, the population’s diehard fanbase could push revenues up into the nine figure range annually. Hell, we think that’s a conservative number.

We’ve run the estimates, and legal sports betting is a massively missed opportunity for the state of South Carolina. Allow us to explain:

Neighboring States See Huge Revenue Windfalls From Betting

Until it’s 100 percent legal, there’s no way of knowing with certainty how much South Carolina could bank off taxing betting. However, we can look at nearby states to guesstimate and get pretty darn close.

Enter North Carolina, the state’s neighbor up top. They are the newest state across the country to go live with legal sports betting, launching at the start of 2024. Thus far, it’s been an overwhelming success.

Take the month of May, for example. North Carolina bettors hit a gross revenue of $63 million. The state keeps $11 million of that based on the rate it’s taxed. These latest figures mean the state of North Carolina has brought in about $42 million — and that’s in under 90 days.

Tennessee is also within striking distance of South Carolina. We only have its April numbers handy, but during the 30-day stretch, the state took home $7 million in taxes from betting. Not too shabby, especially since April is a slower sports betting month.

To be fair though, these aren’t apple-to-apple comparisons. That’s because South Carolina has a far smaller population than either of those two states. North Carolina has about 10 million residents, Tennessee has 7 million, and South Carolina is only at 5 million.

Regardless, there’s still money to be made. If you want to make the math simple, just halve North Carolina’s profits to guess where South Carolina would be at. North Carolina’s $42 million toll in three months could be extrapolated to $21 million for South Carolina. Remember, North Carolina went live when the NFL season — the kingmaker of online betting — all but ended. Once you factor in football, South Carolina could clear the $100 million mark for the year, or get dangerously close to it. That’s no chump change, folks.

If South Carolina gets real greedy, they can even tax sports betting at a relatively higher rate. This is what New York and Illinois have done as of late, perhaps starting a new trend. No one knows for sure, but we can all agree politicians have never met a tax they didn’t like so we wouldn’t be surprised if higher taxes become a thing in this industry.

Little Progress On Legalization In South Carolina

To put it short and sweet, legal sports betting in South Carolina has zero traction. Zero! Worse, there’s no real glimmer of hope that things will change.

It’s not that sports betting bills haven’t been introduced in South Carolina before. There has — and plenty of them. We counted four different bills in 2019, 2021, 2022, and 2023. However, three were killed really fast, which tells you the level of appetite for this.

Technically speaking, the 2023 bill is still alive, it’s just not moving. HB 3749 is the 2023 bill, however, it hasn’t got out of the House since first being introduced.

Will things change? We only see one path for doing so. If South Carolina legislators were to see and hear the success of North Carolina or even Tennessee, that could spur them into taking these sports betting bills more seriously. After all, there’s few things that spur action quite like envy and desire for money. Maybe it’s nihilistic, but it’s just how American politics works nowadays — no need to wear rose-colored glasses about it.

South Carolina Bettors Have External Options

If you’re reading this and stuck in South Carolina, there are two realistic options if you want to bet on sports online.

The first workaround is to travel to nearby North Carolina (or Tennessee) and bet inside their borders. Both have fully legal online betting so once you cross the state line, licensed betting apps will work on the spot.

The second and more convenient route though, is to use an offshore betting site. These work just fine if you’re inside South Carolina despite not being officially licensed. As the name hints, these betting sites are located in foreign countries, thus skirt around South Carolina rules and regulations.

There’s no shortage of offshore bookies to service South Carolina bettors. However, we recommend one of the five featured below. Per our latest sportsbook reviews, these five are rated among the highest inside the state:

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Eric Uribe

Hailing from the US, Eric has channeled his passion for sports into a career in journalism. Building on his experience as a sports editor, he now focuses his expertise on reviewing sportsbook promos to find the best offers. With years covering sports from high school to the pros, he provides expert betting insights, especially fighting and football. When he's not giving advice, you'll find Eric at the sportsbook with a Red Bull vodka in hand, enjoying the thrill of the big game!