South Carolina gambling laws restrict most forms of gaming. Lottery betting and charitable gambling are allowed, but most other forms of betting are strictly forbidden in South Carolina. The state takes the position that gambling lowers the morals of its citizens and encourages crime. Some anti-gambling laws have been on the books for more than 200 years, so the gambling statutes of South Carolina have an antiquated sound to them. Luckily, fines and punishments are limited for the very same reason.
Residents who enjoy casino gambling do have the option of driving to the Myrtle Beach and Little River area to play on a casino cruise. At present, casino cruise ships leave the Myrtle Beach area most days of the week for morning/afternoon and evening/night cruises. The most popular table games, slot machines, and video poker machines are available, though no poker games are found on the Big M Casino Cruises.
Laws That Pertain to South Carolina Gambling
South Carolina still has gambling laws on the books dating back to 1802, which should suggest South Carolinian gambling laws are old, rigid, and not likely to change anytime soon. Any law written at a time the Holy Roman Empire still existed is likely to have some anachronistic terms and South Carolina’s gambling laws certain do.
The statutes discuss what constitutes illegal gambling at inns, taverns, barns, kitchens, outhouses, and open woods. It also uses the term “stores for the retailing of spirituous liquors”, so liquor store owners should be warned not to host a local poker game.
Despite the dated nature of the South Carolina gambling laws, a few changes have been made in the past 15 to 20 years. A state lottery was approved in 2002, alongside Powerball lottery tickets. Mega Millions followed in 2010, so there are signs the South Carolina legislature is changing its attitudes towards gambling legalization.
If any person shall play at any tavern, inn, store for the retailing of spirituous liquors or in any house used as a place of gaming, barn, kitchen, stable or other outhouse, street, highway, open wood, race field or open place at (a) any game with cards or dice, (b) any gaming table, commonly called A, B, C, or E, O, or any gaming table known or distinguished by any other letters or by any figures, (c) any roley-poley table, (d) rouge et noir, (e) any faro bank (f) any other table or bank of the same or the like kind under any denomination whatsoever or (g) any machine or device licensed pursuant to Section 12-21-2720 and used for gambling purposes, except the games of billiards, bowls, backgammon, chess, draughts, or whist when there is no betting on any such game of billiards, bowls, backgammon, chess, draughts, or whist or shall bet on the sides or hands of such as do game, upon being convicted thereof, before any magistrate, shall be imprisoned for a period of not over thirty days or fined not over one hundred dollars.
Faro, roley-poley, and rouge et noir (red or black: roulette) are listed as the main games which must be policed, so times have changed since South Carolina’s gambling statute was written. Games which are exempted include “billiards, bowls, backgammon, chess, draughts, or whist.” At the same time, a provision was tacked on later to expand the law involved “any machine or device” used to gamble, so online gambling, mobile gambling, and Internet sweepstakes cafes are covered by the law.
The South Carolina Education Lottery (SCEL) was passed in the early 21st century, so it is new and tied specifically to funding education. Powerball and Mega Millions tickets are available, along Lucky for Life tickets sold by the Connecticut Lottery. A variety of SCEL lotto tickets can be bought, including SCEL options include Pick 3, Pick 4, Palmetto Cash 5, and a wide range of scratch card game tickets.
The biggest prize ever won in US lottery history was won by a South Carolina lottery player in October 2018. A $1.6 billion Mega Millions ticket was sold at a KC Mart convenience store in Simpsonville, South Carolina. The winner, who received an $878 million lump sum payout after taxes, declined to claim their lottery winnings for the next 135 days, thus touching off a mystery about their reasons for not collecting the prize.
Since a prize is nullified after 180 days without a claimant, the person 45 days from losing their record lottery prize, but eventually claimed it anonymously in early March 2019. Hogan Brown, the South Carolina Lottery Commission’s Executive Director, said of the anonymous, record-breaking lottery winner, “We are delighted that the winner is a South Carolinian and has come forward to claim this remarkable prize. We respect the winner’s decision to remain anonymous, and we will honor the winner’s wishes.”
South Carolina Online Poker Laws
Online poker is not legal in the state of South Carolina. Of all the US states, South Carolina appears to be one of those least likely to legalize and regulate online poker or online casinos in the coming years. In fact, South Carolina elected officials are some of those leading the fight to ban online gambling in all 50 states.
Starting in 2015, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) began to support a bill in the U.S. Senate, Restore America’s Wire Act (RAWA), which would ban online poker and online casinos in all 50 states. At the time, Sen. Graham was preparing for a run for US president and he needed major funding for his political campaign. Sheldon Adelson, the biggest GOP donor there is, had said in 2014 he would spend “whatever it takes” to ban online gambling. Becoming Adelson’s champion for RAWA would put any candidate in good stead with a huge donor.
While that might not have been Lindsey Graham’s reasoning in support Restore America’s Wire Act, his reasons for supporting such a bill were flawed. In Senate hearings, Graham claimed New Jersey’s single-state online and mobile gambling sites allowed South Carolina players to log into their sites. He also claimed geolocation technology could not tell where a person was — in South Carolina or New Jersey — and thus all Internet gambling had to be banned.
Graham, who later admitted he doesn’t use the Internet and needed aids to show him how to use a mobile phone, was dismissed in a bipartisan way by his Senate colleagues. Most U.S. senators have GPS technology in their cars and thus know how reliable and precise geolocation is. The claim by Lindsey Graham that any South Carolinian with a smartphone could gamble on New Jersey regulated websites fell flat.
Whether on purpose or not, Lindsey Graham also implied that New Jersey’s regulated online gambling market had to be shut down because operators might funnel revenues to organized crime or terrorist organizations. Anyone familiar with online gambling realizes Graham was confusing unregulated online gaming sites with the regulated online gaming industry — which contains many companies that are publicly-traded on the London Stock Exchange. In short, Lindsey Graham was arguing for the regulation of online gambling, because it would lead to safer and more transparent transactions that couldn’t fund criminal organizations.
All of this is to say that Senator Graham’s logical fallacies fell flat in Washington D.C., but maintains support in South Carolina. The state legislature continues a longstanding prohibition of most forms of gambling. Because South Carolina gamblers enjoy their pastime, many residents play at offshore unregulated online casinos and poker sites. South Carolina lawmakers have no intention of changing the laws in the coming years, so online poker will continue to be unregulated and unlicensed — at least in South Carolina. We recommend that anyone playing in an unregulated environment should do their due diligence and choose operators who are licensed and regulated elsewhere — like Gibraltar, Malta, the Isle of Man, and a half-dozen countries in the Caribbean or Central America.
No. South Carolina is one of the remaining states least likely to legalize sports betting. It has no land-based casinos to house a sportsbook. South Carolina has no horse tracks or dog tracks which might serve as sports betting venues. It doesn’t even have off-track betting facilities. South Carolinians have a staunch anti-gambling streak, so at least 40 US states are likely to pass sports betting bills before South Carolina does.
While South Carolina has not legalized and regulated daily fantasy sports, it also does not prosecute DFS gaming operators. FanDuel, DraftKings, Fantasy Draft, and other major daily fantasy sports websites accept real money play from South Carolina residents.
No. South Carolina does not have land-based casinos. Besides Utah and Hawaii, South Carolina is one of the most restrictive states when it comes to regulated gambling. Of course, that means South Carolina has a large amount of unregulated gambling, a consequence of banning a popular pastime. Those who enjoy casino gambling in South Carolina are best served booking passage on a casino cruise.
Examples include the Big “M” Casino cruise in North Myrtle Beach and the Big “M” Casino Ship II in Little River — a town adjacent to North Myrtle Beach. Such businesses offer a day trip with casinos onboard, including blackjack, craps, roulette, Let It Ride, and 3-Card Poker. Big M Casino cruises also have slot machines like Wheel of Fortune and Pot O’ Gold, as well as video poker machines. Each cruise has an all-you-can-eat buffet, theme nights, and live entertainment by local artists. Both cruises are listed as leaving from Little River on their official page, though Google Maps shows Big M Casino I leaving from North Myrtle Beach.
A casino cruise gets around the ban on land-based casinos because it navigates 3 miles out to sea, which is where territorial waters end and international waters begin. Once the casino cruise gets beyond 3 miles from shore, it can offer casino games because international laws apply. Big M Casino ships even have a Players Club with 5x points accumulation for comps. AM cruises last from 11am to 4:30pm, while PM cruises last from 6:30pm to 11:30pm.
Other casino cruise lines might exist at any given time, so check for Myrtle Beach and Charleston to see if a business operates from those ports. At the moment, Big M Casino appears to be the only South Carolina casino cruises.
|City||Name Of Casino||Address||Phone Number||Details|
|North Myrtle Beach||Big M Casino – Ship I||4491 Water Front Avenue, Little River, South Carolina 29566-8201||(843) 249-9811||178 Gaming Machines, 1 Poker Table, 12 Gaming Tables|
|Little River||Big M Casino – Ship II||4491 Mineola Avenue, Little River, South Carolina 29566-8743||(843) 249-9811||248 Gaming Machines, 1 Poker Table, 12 Gaming Tables|
No. South Carolina does not have legal betting tracks and certainly doesn’t have betting shops.
No. South Carolina does not have simulcasting and off-track betting.
The South Carolina Department of Revenue (SCDOR) oversees the licensing and regulation of charitable gambling in South Carolina. Dozens of substantial charitable bingo halls exist, but bingo is the only type of game allowed. Pull-tabs, pickle games, raffles, and poker nights are not allowed.
The Bingo Act of 1976 legalized charitable bingo. This banned bingo games with more than one prize or awarded prizes of unequal value. It also banned specified merchandized or events that altered the prize in any way after the event. The winner got a single prize and that was it.
The Bingo Act of 1989 included provisions for a promoter’s license. By that time, charitable gaming organizations realized it paid to have promoters bring in bigger crowds, so lawmakers chose to create a licensing process. For that reason, the SCDOR oversees bingo machines manufacturers, gaming machines distributors, and promoters of bingo events.
|City||Name Of Casino||Address||Phone Number||Details|
|Anderson||Putt Putt Bingo||108 Putt Putt Drive, Anderson, South Carolina 29625-3913||(864) 224-6364||400 Bingo Seats|
|Cayce||Cayce Bingo||1148 Walter Price Road, Cayce, South Carolina 29033-3525||(803) 739-1233||N/A|
|Charleston||Lucky Bingo||1637 Ashley Hall Road, Charleston, South Carolina 29710-1040||(843) 556-9751||414 Bingo Seats|
|Clover||Clover Bingo||912 Old North Main Street, Clover, South Carolina 29710-1040||(803) 222-7655||550 Bingo Seats|
|Columbia||Carolina Beach Bingo||2768 Decker Boulevard, Columbia, South Carolina 29206-1714||(803) 419-5279||150 Bingo Seats|
|Columbia||Mr. Bingo St. Andrews||1215 Saint Andrews Road, Suite 4, Columbia, South Carolina 29210-5882||(803) 731-1000||300 Bingo Seats|
|Conway||Mill Pond Bingo||1410 Mill Pond Road, Conway, South Carolina 29527-4731||(843) 248-2081||50 Bingo Seats|
|Georgetown||By George Bingo||1222 North Fraser Street, Georgetown, South Carolina 29440-2852||(843) 520-0704||200 Bingo Seats|
|Goose Creek||Putt Putt Bingo||108 Putt Putt Drive, Anderson, South Carolina 29625-3913||(864) 224-6364||400 Bingo Seats|
|Goose Creek||B&L Beach Bingo||1230 Red Bank Road, Unit 10, Goose Creek, South Carolina 29445-4555||(843) 553-2001||222 Bingo Seats|
|Goose Creek||Galley Hall Bingo||200 Eagle Road, Goose Creek, South Carolina 29445||(843) 569-0252||250 Bingo Seats|
|Greenville||Surfside Bingo||6119 White Horse Road, Greenville, South Carolina 29611-3838||(864) 269-7789||152 Bingo Seats|
|Greenwood||Northside Bingo||1509 Montague Avenue Extension, Greenwood, South Carolina 29649-9030||(864) 223-2426||100 Bingo Seats|
|Greer||Greer Beach Bingo||14137 East Wade Hampton Boulevard, Greer, South Carolina 29651-1558||(843) 569-2290||189 Bingo Seats|
|Greer||Mr. Bingo Greer||14137 East Wade Hampton Boulevard, Greer, South Carolina 29651-1558||(843) 569-2299||42 Bingo Seats|
|Ladson||Beacon Beach Bingo||121 College Park Road, Ladson, South Carolina 29456||(843) 569-2299||42 Bingo Seats|
|Ladson||Beacon Bingo||119 College Park Road, Ladson, South Carolina 29456-3563||(843) 569-2290||300 Bingo Seats|
|Laurens||Bonanza Bingo||20482 East Main Street, Laurens, South Carolina 29360||(864) 682-9337||850 Bingo Seats|
|North Augusta||Paradise Bingo||603 East Martintown Road, North Augusta, South Carolina 29841-4201||(803) 613-1000||50 Bingo Seats|
|North Augusta||Shamrock Bingo||551 Atomic Road, North Augusta, South Carolina 29841||(803) 202-0095||150 Bingo Seats|
|North Charleston||Beach Bingo||4307 Rivers Avenue, Suite F, North Charleston, South Carolina 29405-6677||(843) 554-1234||70 Bingo Seats|
|North Charleston||Evanston Beach Bingo||5341 Dorchester Road, Unit 12, North Charleston, South Carolina 29418-5618||(843) 767-1354||150 Bingo Seats|
|Roebuck||295 Bee Bingo||627 Southport Road, Roebuck, South Carolina 29376||(864) 583-9860||200 Bingo Seats|
|Spartanburg||Great American Bingo||1449 Asheville Highway, Spartanburg, South Carolina 29303-2003||(864) 201-9745||200 Bingo Seats|
|Sumter||Main Spot Bingo||369 Manning Avenue, Sumter, South Carolina 29150-6454||(803) 773-6808||70 Bingo Seats|
|West Columbia||Mr. Bingo Charleston Highway||1470 Charleston Highway, West Columbia, South Carolina 29169-5516||(03) 739-4646||550 Bingo Seats|
|West Columbia||Westside Beach Bingo||1474 Charleston Highway, West Columbia, South Carolina 29169-5516||(803) 791-0814||150 Bingo Seats|
No. Social gaming under a charitable gaming license is not permitted. Poker nights and casinos nights are banned under South Carolina law. Officials have specific forms of gambling for charities, but they are limited and specific. Those hosting poker nights are in violation of the law.
Players wanting to enjoy at free-to-play online social gaming casinos like Double Down Casino, Slotomania, Big Fish Games, or Zynga are allowed to do so as long as the game is totally free. That means you can log onto Facebook and play the free social casino games or download a gaming app for any such games.
These days, social casino apps for Android phones are available on Google Play, for iPhone and iPad on the Apple Apps Store, and for both on Amazon. Players also can access free casino sites like MyVegas (MGM Resorts) and Play4Fun (Mohegan Sun), but these offer real money comps and rewards for online play. The state legislature is strict enough that playing on such sites is not worth the risk in South Carolina.