South Carolina Lawmakers Introduce Sports Betting Bill, Eyeing a Quick Launch

South Carolina Lawmakers Introduce Sports Betting Bill, Eyeing a Quick Launch article feature image

Jim Dedmon, USA Today Sports.

A pair of South Carolina lawmakers introduced a bill to legalize retail and online sports betting.

The bipartisan measure would impose a 10% gaming tax between 10-12 different online operators, directing the bulk of revenue to education.

It's the first sports betting legislation in South Carolina in nearly three years.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Bill Herbkersman (R) and House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford (D), is pending a reading in the House Judiciary Committee. It has until June 15 to pass both chambers before heading to Gov. Henry McMaster (R) for signature.

McMaster has spoken out against legalizing sports betting in the past, saying it runs counter to South Carolina's values. He's up for reelection in November and could shift his stance depending on how close the race gets.

Joe Cunningham, a former U.S. congressman, is one of several vying for the democratic ticket. He's been vocal about legalizing sports betting, claiming the state misses out on up to $100 million a year without it.

State Sen. Mia McLeod, the other leading democratic candidate, has not indicated her stance on legal sports betting.

South Carolina Set For Speedy Sports Betting Launch

Pending passage, the bill tasks the South Carolina Lottery Commission with regulation. During the typical post-passage comment gathering period, they would have the authority to adopt temporary rules. That could get sports betting up and running much faster than it takes most states after legalizing.

With 80% of tax revenue directed toward state education funds, county governments would receive an additional 15%, with the remainder put toward mental health services.

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The bill would allow sports betting operators to carry forward any losses month-to-month and exempts revenue tied to promotional bets/free play from taxation.

North Carolina is the only state that borders South Carolina to offer legal sports betting, though activity is limited to tribal lands. North Carolina lawmakers are expected to take up an online bill that moved through committees last year once their legislative session starts in May.

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