Mobile Sports Betting

  • HB 3749 has passed its first subcommittee and now moves on to the Ways and Means Committee.
  • The bill seeks to legalize online-only sports betting, something that Tennessee first accomplished a few years back.
  • Estimates on potential tax revenue hover around $23 million, being split up mainly into a general fund and also setting aside money to address problem-gambling.

COLUMBIA, S.C. – A new bill is making its way through South Carolina’s legislature with the main purpose being the legalization of exclusively digital sports betting. The bill managed to pass the subcommittee and will now head to the general Ways and Means Committee where it will be deliberated and possibly passed to the House floor.

With the bill still early in its life cycle, the Senate has not yet introduced a corresponding bill. The introduction of HB 3749 is a symbolic victory for the future of legal South Carolina sports betting, as it marks one of the few times the legislature has addressed the idea of gambling legalization.

What Does HB 3749 Accomplish?

The primary sponsor of SC HB 3749 is Representative Christopher Murray, who laid out a summary of the SC sports betting bill before the Ways and Means subcommittee yesterday.

In the summary, Murray specified that South Carolina will not have to pay a dime, as licensing fees will cover overhead operational costs. The bill further creates a framework for mobile/online sports wagering in the state and will be able to provide up to eight total licenses.

Of those eight, two are reserved for partners of the PGA and NASCAR’s Darlington Raceway as standalone operator licenses. The remaining six would be available to applicants. Applicants for these licenses must meet several qualifications such as being operational in at least five other states to ensure credibility.

The bill would further create an Equine and Sports Wagering Commission that would be the regulatory entity for the foreseeable future of gambling in the state.

The markets that would be offered included college and professional sports, as well as an exhaustive list of other events that the commission would create once the bill is passed. Minor, high school and youth sports are specifically banned from being bet on in the bill.

The legal age would be 18, keeping in line with the current legal age of buying a lottery ticket in South Carolina. This is a departure from the minimum age of 21 found in most other states that have regulated sportsbooks.

Murray specifies that SC HB 3749 takes much of its framework from both the Tennessee bill that was passed a few years ago as well as weaving in components of North Carolina’s bill that is currently making its way towards the Senate after passing the House.

The adjusted gross revenue of operators would be taxed at 10% and was noted to be negotiable. Conservative estimates for the tax revenue this would bring is about $23 million annually, which is split up into three funds: 80% will go to the state’s general fund, 15% to local governments, and 5% to combat problem gambling through social programs that help with gambling addiction or other mental health issues.

For applying operators, the bill requires a $50,000 application fee that will be refunded if the operator is not accepted by the commission, and a $450,000 operating fee for a grand total of $500,000.

Among other questions, Rep. Murray addressed the possible conflict between sports betting and lottery revenue by citing studies showing that sports betting would not affect lottery sales by much if at all, due to lack of overlapping demographics.

While still in its infant stage, SC HB 3749 provides a lot of the framework that could make legal sports betting  a huge boon for residents and government revenue alike if it is eventually passed through the South Carolina legislature.

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