States are now free to offer sports betting: where do South Carolina leaders stand?

HORRY COUNTY, SC – (WMBF) - The Supreme Court ruled to strike down a federal law that did not allow states to gamble on professional and college sports earlier this week. Soon, you may see more states across the nation legalizing sports betting. But where does South Carolina stand in all of this?

Although some state lawmakers are on the fence, some say they want to take the gamble on sports betting, making it legal in the state. If South Carolina were to legalize sports betting, it wouldn't happen anytime this year, since the session is now closed.

Some state law makers say a lot of factors need to be considered before moving forward with this decision, citing we already have a state-sponsored gambling through the South Carolina Education Lottery.

Senator Greg Hembree tells me he's not opposed to well-regulated sports betting in the state. He says he's concerned and interested to learn what impact sports gambling would have on the education lottery revenues. He believes both can co-exist, if structured properly.

But some like Senator Luke Rankin say their open for further discussion, and the odds are long for legalized sports gambling in South Carolina anytime soon.

"A lot of states are prime to do this, they've got horse racing they've got dog racing, and so that would be more conducive atmosphere I would think. We'll see in South Carolina, whether there's any great appetite to do this as a state and again what tax benefit will there truly be, that's what we're going to have to measure," said Rankin.

While Dagwood's Deli and Sports Bar says when it comes to sports betting here in South Carolina, they're all in. They say allowing sports betting here could mean local sports bars hitting the jackpot, but will South Carolina Lawmakers allow it?

Right now, South Carolina has a ban in its constitution that prohibits gambling, putting the state behind many others that have already legalized some form of gambling. Therefore, it would require an amendment.

"I think it's only going to increase interest across the board of people that already come in and watch anything with baseball golf, you know we cover it all… So there's also more interest when people's money and wallets are at stake,"  Marketing Director of Dagwood's Deli and Sports Bar Tiffany Doolittle.

15th Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson said there's not a lot of charges for gambling in South Carolina, and timing is key for the state to benefit.
"It will really depend upon where South Carolina gets in. If we're the 49th state, you're probably better off not even doing it. If you're the first state in the region, you're going to gain more money," said Richardson.

But is there an appetite for sports betting in the state?

"So of course, even if their thinking it might not persuade locals, you got to think of the millions of tourists we have in the state each year, and I think that would bring it in," said Doolittle.

Since the legislative session is over for the year, the earliest leaders could work on any sports-betting laws would be in 2019.

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