When people think about South Carolina, they dream of lying on the beach and watching the sun rise and set. The state enjoys a fair amount of tourism and has a population of 5.12 million citizens as of 2020. If there is one thing tourists love, it is entertainment, and the state might seem like a good place to enjoy gambling and playing games to win money.
However, South Carolina is not a gambling-friendly state and playing poker is illegal. The state took a very long time to legalize gambling, and it is likely to take even longer to legalize online gambling. While this situation does not seem encouraging for poker enthusiasts currently living in South Carolina, there may be light at the end of the tunnel.
This article focuses on gambling laws in South Carolina and the possibility of online gambling and online poker being legalized in the state. However, before we dive into laws, we must understand the history of poker and gambling to know why South Carolina is so strict towards gambling.
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History of Gambling in South Carolina
Gambling in South Carolina cannot be traced to its very beginnings because gambling has always existed among people. However, reforms against gambling in South Carolina began as early as 1788 when the assembly banned all forms of gambling within state borders.
In 2001, South Carolina began accepting gambling again by creating the state lottery. This brought hope to gamblers, but the state encouraged mostly gambling for charity.
The state lottery has raised $3.8 billion for education since it started in 2002. However, when the Tribal Gaming Agreement was introduced in 2003, voters rejected it, leaving South Carolina to retain its strict laws around gambling. Five years later the legalization and regulation of gambling cruises took effect..
Although there was an attempt to legalize sports betting in 2019, the bill failed after its first hearing. To this day, poker is not allowed in South Carolina, and there has been no other attempt to legalize any form of online gambling.
Is Online Poker Legal in South Carolina?
No, online poker is not legal in South Carolina. The Palmetto State has very strict gambling laws and is considered an anti-gambling state. The ban on gambling activities doesn’t just apply to online poker. All forms of online gambling are banned, and even live poker and casino games are illegal within state borders. For this reason, there are no live poker rooms in the state nor legal online casinos in South Carolina.
Most forms of gambling are banned in the state except for lotteries and charitable gaming. Although South Carolina allows horse racing, wagering on races in person or online is outlawed. The chances that the Palmetto State will become a gambling-friendly state are very slim, even though the state has plenty of tourists who might like to entertain themselves at the casino.
With the history of gambling in the state and how strict the gambling laws are, there is no predicting when South Carolina will loosen its grip and allow online gambling and, ultimately, online poker. Although there are talks within the legislation to legalize parimutuel wagering and off-track betting for horse racing, they are still in the early stages.
Poker enthusiasts living in South Carolina are hoping live poker rooms will be regulated in the state, but for now, their only option to enjoy poker games is through sweepstakes and social casino sites. However, the only way to gamble legally in South Carolina is through the state lottery or by playing charity bingo games.
Gambling Laws in South Carolina
The code of laws of South Carolina does not have a definition of what it considers gambling or wagering, thus by default accepts the definitions in the United States code 5362. However, in the code of laws of South Carolina, section 16-19-40, the Palmetto State refers to gambling as “unlawful games and betting,”
It is illegal to play games of any sort on Sunday by South Carolina’s code. This law can be found in section 16-19-70, where it says; “Whoever shall keep or suffer to be kept any gaming table or permit any game or games to be played in his house on the Sabbath day, on conviction thereof before any court having jurisdiction, shall be fined in the sum of fifty dollars, to be sued for on behalf of, and to be recovered for the use of, the State.”
The laws of South Carolina are not very detailed in their explanations because there are no gambling laws focused on online gambling, but the punishments for breaching the gambling code online or offline are very specific.
Section 16-19-40 summarizes that anyone caught gambling in South Carolina will be placed in prison for 30 days or made to pay a fine of up to $100. What’s more, people using locations like an inn, house, or public space as a gambling house will be convicted. If they are indicted, they will be sent to prison for up to twelve months and fined up to $2,000 for each of their offenses.
Section 16-19-80, also notes that when caught by the authorities, all the cash they made from gambling illegally can be seized. This includes stakes or pending winnings. For age limits or age regulations for gambling, the South Carolina code of law states in sections 32-1-10, 12-21-2791, and 61-9-410 that “No one under 21 may play or collect winnings.”
Who Regulates Online Poker in South Carolina?
Regulation of online poker in South Carolina is a dream that will not come true anytime soon. This is because online gambling, which includes online poker, is illegal in South Carolina. Live poker rooms do not exist within state borders and playing any type of game is banned on Sundays.
On the outside, it looks like a life with no fun and little gaming freedom, but as long as you play games without wagering money, the state code allows you to enjoy it. Not all gambling is illegal, the state lottery and charity games are allowed. In South Carolina, the proceeds of the state lottery are converted to revenue for education.
Since there are no legal online poker sites to regulate, there are no regulatory bodies for online poker in South Carolina. However, gambling in the Palmetto State is regulated according to the South Carolina Educational Lottery Act.
How To Play Real-money Poker in South Carolina
Enjoying a game of poker in South Carolina could cost you jail time or even worse if you’re playing it online because there are no regulated sites. While many other states are relaxing their gambling laws, the Palmetto State refuses to regulate any type of online gambling, including sports betting.
However, if you enjoy playing poker and you live in or are on vacation in South Carolina, there are some legal options for you. The only way bettors can play poker in South Carolina is through the internet since poker rooms are not allowed within state borders. Moreover, there are no legal online poker sites or online casinos. Players have to use sweepstakes or social casino sites. There is no record of someone getting arrested or prosecuted for playing online poker using their device.
The Legality of Sweepstake Sites in South Carolina
According to the state code of laws of South Carolina, you cannot gamble in taverns, inns, or even at a friend’s house. For you to enjoy a game of poker, the internet is your only option. To play online poker legally, you have to play on sweepstake or offshore casino sites. This is a legal option because you do not make wagers with real money on sweepstake sites, while offshore platforms are regulated by other states with legalized online poker.
However, the moment you decide to host a game with which you plan to make money, you can be arrested for breaking the law in South Carolina. Using social casino sites, poker enthusiasts can take part in online poker tournaments as some sweepstake sites accept players from South Carolina. If you are going through the offshore casino route, we recommend you check out Global Poker. This is one of the top poker sites that accepts players from this state and has plenty of poker games to play. The best part is that you don’t need real money to get started.
Best Sites to Play Real-money Poker In South Carolina
For players who want to go the route of offshore sites, there are numerous platforms you can check out to play poker in SC. Some of the top choices we recommend include:
This poker site is the best social casino available to South Carolina right now. They have been in the online poker business for 15 years, but they started with live poker rooms 20 years ago. Their many years of experience in delivering poker services make them trustworthy. BetOnline holds a spot in the top three busiest poker sites for US players.
Their bonus offers are incredible. BetOnline offers a deposit bonus of 100% up to $2500 and you can get so much more in prize pools. That isn’t the only bonus you can get. Using the promo code: NEWBOL you can get a $1,000 bonus on your first deposit. There are other bonus codes that can benefit you on the site.
The site is easy to use, fun and can be accessed from any device. It is especially good for new or beginner players hoping to learn poker. You can learn effectively on BetOnline without losing too much money.
The payout options are fast and convenient. BetOnline provides a cryptocurrency payout option that promises immediate payout. However, if you use a credit or debit card, your withdrawals will be processed in one to three days.
Bovada has earned the trust of American players for the last ten years. The organization has been around since 2004. Bovada is one of the sites where you can enjoy playing real-money poker in South Carolina. Since wagering money is illegal in the state, you can play using sweepstake coins and convert your winnings afterward.
The site is easy to use, and you can play on your PC or mobile device. Players are not limited to the website because Bovada has an app version that is available on android and iOS. They have a wide range of games and tournaments that accept players from South Carolina.
Unlike other sites, you aren’t limited to one tournament at a time. Bovada allows you access to up to eight tournaments at the same time. The match bonuses are 100% up to $500.
The payout options in Bovada are very reliable and are faster than most. Using traditional options like credit or debit cards, your withdrawals will be processed in one to three days, depending on your bank practices.
Ignition Poker launched in 2016, and although it is still new in the online poker industry, it has attracted players from several states, including South Carolina. The site has lots of American players and is in the top ten busiest poker sites.
The real-money online poker tournaments on Ignition Poker are available to players from South Carolina. If you enjoy playing tournament games, you should register an account. The site hosts both small and big tournaments during the day and at night time. The buying rates differ accordingly.
When playing normal poker, you can play with as little as $0.02 and as much as $60. During the tournament, buying rates are as low as $11 and the winning range from $3,000 to $12,000, but for nightly tournaments, the buying starts as low as $55 with a prize pool of $5,000 to $30,000.
New players on Ignition Poker get a bonus of 100% of their first deposit up to $2,000. If deposits are made with bitcoin, then you are entitled to 150% up to $1,500 on your first deposit. Aside from cryptocurrency transactions, Ignition Poker has plenty of payment options, including credit cards like MasterCard, Visa, and American Express.
This site used to be known as Intertops and their specialty is hosting online poker special events. Everygame Poker has managed to win the hearts of American players by delivering exceptional services.
Players trust this site because it is licensed by Curacao, which is a top iGaming regulator. For a state like South Carolina that is against gambling, players might feel safer playing on a site like Everygame. The site is secure, and it offers fast payout options to players.
Although many players trust the site, it is still slow in traffic compared to other sites. However, it is one of the social casinos that accepts players from South Carolina. They have huge bonus offers for new players. Bettors can get 200% up to $1,000 on your first deposit and 25 free spins.
To claim your bonus, you have to create an account using the promo code 10000ITP. You can also use the promo code when making your first deposit. Everygame has high-quality games and tournaments and there is customer support for players available 24/7.
Everygame has a wide range of payout options, including bitcoin and credit cards like Mastercard, Visa, and American Express. It also accepts prepaid credit cards, wire transfers, money transfers, and paper checks. Transactions using traditional payouts like credit or debit cards take one to five days to process while transactions using bitcoin are instant.
Frequently Asked Questions About Poker in SC
Is online gambling legal in South Carolina?
No. All forms of online gambling are illegal in South Carolina, including sports betting. The state code of laws terms most forms of gambling illegal aside from the state lottery and charity games. Although the laws on gambling do not mention the internet or online gambling, it is illegal in South Carolina.
Can I play online poker tournaments in South Carolina?
You can take part in online poker tournaments if you live in South Carolina. However, South Carolina is not a gambling-friendly state, so it is safer for you to play on a social casino site or an offshore site.
Is online poker legal in South Carolina?
No. Online poker is not legal in South Carolina. All forms of online gambling are illegal in the state.
Will online poker be regulated soon in South Carolina?
There is a possibility that online poker will be regulated, but it isn’t likely. Normally, legalizing sports betting is a sign of hope for future online poker regulation, but the bill to regulate sports betting failed after its first hearing in South Carolina. From this point of view, there is no predicting if online poker regulation is legally possible in the Palmetto State.
Can I play live room poker in South Carolina?
Poker is illegal in South Carolina, as well as most games that involve wagering money. There are no live poker rooms in South Carolina, so you can’t enjoy live room poker within state borders.