SC Governor Election To Decide If State Legalizes Sports Betting?

Written By Ryan Minion on June 20, 2022
south carolina sports betting

In November, the South Carolina gubernatorial election is on the ballot. So too might be legalizing South Carolina sports betting by proxy.

Current Republican Governor Henry McMaster took the seat in January of 2017 after the resignation of Nikki Haley, and began a full term of his own at the start of 2018. In his re-election campaign, McMaster will be running against former South Carolina congressman and Democratic nominee Joe Cunningham.

One of the issues in this election is the legalization of sports betting throughout the state, with current Governor McMaster openly opposed to the state’s mobile sports betting bill H5277. Might Cunningham support sports betting legislation in South Carolina?

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SC Mobile Sports Betting Bill H5277 Fails In 2022

Stalled in committee during South Carolina’s 2022 legislative session was a mobile sports betting bill that was primarily sponsored by Republican State Representative Bill Herbkersman.

However, South Carolina’s two-year legislative session closed June 15. Many government officials throughout the state of South Carolina saw their fears that the mobile sports betting bill had lost momentum realized.

Despite the passage of sports betting legislation in other conservative states, the majority of political figures throughout South Carolina felt the bill would never be signed into law by Governor McMaster.

Could Joe Cunningham Revive South Carolina Sports Betting?

Many fear Joe Cunningham is the last hope for a future of legalized sports betting throughout the Palmetto state. Cunningham has made it his mission to run a campaign that fully supports legal sports betting statewide.

In various interviews, Cunningham maintained that it is time to give South Carolinians the same freedom people in the majority of other states now enjoy by finally legalizing sports betting.

“This is about freedom, this is about liberty.” Cunningham said back in February. “This is about not allowing politicians to tell people you can’t put $20 down on the Super Bowl when people are already doing it. We might as well generate a little bit of tax revenue to fix the problems that have been piling up.”

Financial Implications of South Carolina Sports Betting

The Democratic gubernatorial nominee stressed the importance of generating new revenue for the state, further asserting that legalizing sports betting will enable the state to fix economic issues by creating good-paying jobs, and could potentially generate $40 million annually through new tax revenue.

If Cunningham is indeed elected to South Carolina’s highest political office, his plan would be to enable citizens to have the ability to place bets on games from their mobile devices, in addition to at various retail locations.

Illegal sports betting is rampant throughout the state, where it is currently unregulated and generating zero tax revenue. Many think that If McMaster is re-elected as Governor, it will likely be at least another four years until residents of South Carolina are able to potentially place legal wagers on sports.

According to Cunningham, McMaster’s stance on legalization is drastically impacting the state’s economy in a negative way.

“All Politics is Local”

In the past, South Carolina has been very sluggish in regard to deciding on gambling issues at the statewide level. For that reason, the phrase “all politics is local” is often used throughout the state when referring to the impact of statewide elections on such decisions.

The Palmetto State hasn’t had a major gambling vote of this magnitude since a 2000 referendum that approved a statewide lottery.

Although Republican-majority state legislatures have been able to pass sports betting legislation in recent years, many political officials in South Carolina believe that bi-partisan support may be necessary to override a governor’s veto.

Despite the positive impact that Cunningham may have on the future of legalized sports betting throughout the state, a constitutional amendment still may be necessary for the approval of sports betting to occur throughout the state.


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