South Carolina Gambling Laws + Statutes

For a hobby that feels so ingrained in the culture and heritage of all American citizens, it’s strange that there is as much restrictive policy related to gambling as there is in the country. Even stranger is how loose the understanding that most citizens have of the law and their rights pertaining to it are. We are not here to bemoan those who do not take place in gambling simply because they do not want to, only the citizens who have not taken part because they believe the entire activity is illegal. With that in mind, this article will get you up to speed on South Carolina gambling laws and how they affect you.

In accordance with Federal law that governs all US citizens, the mere act of placing a bet or wager on any event, be it a sports match, election or game of skill or chance is not illegal. It is only the facilitation of these games for profit that can bring down legal troubles upon an honest citizen. Most states take their cues from both the letter and intent of their law and govern their states accordingly. While South Carolina adds more legislation seemingly further restricting the act, the reality of how the law is enforced falls in line much closer to the federal stance on gambling.

This page was written to help South Carolina residents stay informed on the legal status of all gambling within their state, and that when they make their decision as to whether they wish to participate or not, they may do so as educated on the subject as possible.

Legality of Gambling in South Carolina


Unlike federal laws which specifically do not include those who simply place bets or wagers in their legislation, South Carolina gambling laws takes the time to define the simple act of gambling or betting within their constitution, albeit in two different sections.

Chapter 16-19-40 of state law defines the unlawful act of gambling as betting on “any game with cards or dice.” It’s fairly clear to see here that all popular casino games will be eliminated, as well as even poker. The law goes on to illuminate that the punishment for this crime is up to 30 days in jail as well as a fine of up to $100. If these penalties seem light, it’s because they are. The fine attached to the crime is a sure sign that this is old legislation, and it’s a safe bet that not many enforcement officers are going to pull out a serious investigation to net what’s essentially a speeding ticket.

In an interesting twist, the state of South Carolina actually adds on an extra offense for gambling on the Sabbath day. In accordance with section 16-19-70, this can not only add another 30 days in jail to the offender’s sentence, but an additional $50 on their fine.

One more fascinating aspect of South Carolina law is that sports betting is not lumped in with the prior definition of gambling, but given its own section. In accordance with chapter 16-19-130, the act of betting is its own misdemeanor worth up to a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail. Just like gambling however, the mere act of betting will not be prosecuted and as long as a residents place their bets discretely, they should have no fear of legal retribution.

However, this does not mean that all who gamble in South Carolina are out of the woods. In the very same chapter that defines gambling, 16-19-40, South Carolina expounds that “keeps” these games can be fined $1000 and imprisoned for up to six months… for each offense. This means that if even as few as three games are happening at once, the sentence for the guilty party has officially tripled.

Not only are these penalties more severe, but these are the offenders that South Carolina law enforcement agencies specifically seek out, making this activity dangerous.

Difference Between Gambling & Keeping Gaming Tables

Poker Chip

Luckily for South Carolina residents who wish to partake in gambling acts that will merit a steep penalty and a great deal of legal attention are incredibly distinct from those the law will overlook. Truly, it would be just about impossible to cross the line accidentally.

Put simply what the law in South Carolina simply will not stand for is the facilitation of gambling and betting. This means that if the police were to bust in on an illicit casino (as has happened both in this metaphor and in real life) while the gamblers will simply be sent home after all assets in the casino have been seized, the folks in charge of operating the casino will be put under arrest and may face some severe criminal charges.

There is still another stipulation that criminals who are keeping gambling must adhere to. This both aids in further incriminating the larger criminal syndicates who are the true target of the law and helping keep home games organized amongst friends off the hook. The stipulation is this: in order to be considered “keeping a game,” the host of the game must make a profit off the gambling event.

This does not mean coming out ahead through bets and wagers placed during the game, rather, this means putting oneself in a position to make a profit whether the host bets of not. Some popular means of doing this are operating a casino as the “house,” who always has the best chance of winning, charging admission or collecting a “rake” (a small percentage of each pot taken as a profit to the house) from a poker game, and certainly operating a sportsbook which even has its own unique legislation attached to it.

Just so long as an otherwise honest resident of South Carolina avoids profiting of other people betting and wagering, they should in turn be able to avoid any serious legal attention or penalties for breaking South Carolina gambling laws.

Betting Laws In South Carolina

South Carolina Sports Betting Laws

Of all the gambling acts in the United States, nothing comes under more regulation than sports betting, especially in South Carolina. Even though the law of the land specifically cites sports betting as an offense on par with bookmaking, it is not enforced this way. In fact, there is not one single arrest in the long history of South Carolina simply for betting on sports. However, the increased regulation surrounding its facilitation certainly makes life more difficult. Since it’s such a serious offense in the state, land based sports betting will force residents into the uncomfortable situation of associating with a criminal element in order to place a bet. Therefore, it is not recommended.

On the other hand, through the use of various legal online sportsbooks, South Carolina residents are able to place all the bets they see fit, all while not forcing themselves into a criminal operation. For March Madness tournament alone, billions of dollars from the United States went into legal overseas sportsbooks and lets not get started on the Super Bowl... Unless there is a serious change in legislation, this doesn’t seem ripe for a change anytime soon.

South Carolina Casino Laws

If you have a desire to gamble on land in South Carolina, there isn’t even a speck of good news on the horizon. Within the entire state there is not one facility with sanctioned gambling nor even a federally exempt tribal casino. Worse still, South Carolina is not even bordered by any states with sanctioned gambling. If a South Carolina resident wants to gamble in a brick and mortar casino, they are either in for an expensive plane ticket, or an incredibly long drive.

Luckily, many legal online casinos have seen this hole in the market and provided at least some relief. While it’s tough to replicate the excitement of the Vegas strip, many legal gambling websites can bring the excitement of a hot slot machine or a table game of blackjack right into your own home. It’s a good thing these casinos are such a good option – because for South Carolina residents, they are the only one.

South Carolina Poker Laws

By far, one of the most popular means of gambling all over the country is by playing poker. There are many states that have recognized the money rampant in standalone brick and mortar poker rooms, and have provided wiggle room in state legislation in order to sanction such facilities. Unfortunately, South Carolina did not show up at the party, and thusly, there are no state sanctioned poker rooms in the state to be found.

However, the law will not interfere with poker home games. This leaves two options open – firstly, the sacred rite of passage that is Friday night cards and beer remains unaffected, and secondly, residents are free to bring legal online poker rooms into their homes.

Legal Gambling Age In South Carolina

The situation regarding gambling and the law is complicated enough as it is. Most would agree that there is no reason to make it any more involved than it absolutely needs to be, and that is why we cannot recommend strongly enough that South Carolina residents wait until they are at least 21, the legal gambling age as defined by South Carolina gambling laws, to take part in any gambling.

Violation of this law will not only result in punishments from whichever facility the offender is caught illegally gambling in, but punishments from the state that can include steep fines and even jail time.













Where to Gamble in South Carolina


Unfortunately, options for legal gambling within South Carolina boundaries when it comes to brick and mortar facilities are less than few – they’re non-existent. Unfortunately, neighboring Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina are of little help either. If one who lives in South Carolina has a deep desire to visit a casino, they are an expensive plane ticket or a LONG drive away from doing so. In a state that has shown a certain tenacity and talent for busting up illicit gambling rings, we at SouthCarolinaGamblingLaws.com have to recommend avoiding land based gambling at all costs.


Fortunately, there is a perfectly viable alternative to land based gambling. By this, we mean the use of legal gambling networks. Astute readers may be curious as to how, in a state where the facilitation of gambling is so heavily penalized and where no state licenses are issued these websites are able to operate legally. The answer is simple: location. Since these networks have been established and are maintained overseas where gambling is legal, they are able to offer their services well outside of South Carolina and federal jurisdiction with no fear of law enforcement agencies shutting them down or seizing their funds.

Now that it has been established that South Carolina residents may safely participate in gambling and that these are legal websites, it stands to reason that there is a legal and safe hobby on our hands. The only concern left for some is the uncertainty of trusting a foreign company with hard earned money. While this is an understandable concern, it is not a necessary one. The perks of these websites being legal in their native lands is twofold. Firstly, there is no concern of any legal agents seizing the money inside of these networks. Secondly, in order to operate as legal and legitimate business, they are held up to rigid standards regarding both fair play inside their networks and the reliability of payouts. We will never endorse a website that does not pay out its clients both regularly and fairly.

Best Legal Gambling Sites For South Carolina Residents

Bovada Sportsbook

RATED:5 Star Review

Bovada - Generous Bonuses For All Types of Gambling

If online gambling networks are grains of sand in the desert, Bovada is the crown jewel among them. After serving residents of South Carolina for over 20 years, this legal gambling site has turned into the gold standard by which all other are measured. Both the efficiency and security of their cashier is unparalleled, offering speedy and complete payouts with no fear of losing money to a dishonest hacker or hidden fees that pop up in every corner. With Bovada, you need only relax and enjoy the premiere sportsbook, top notch poker room, or fantastic casino with absolutely no fear of legal prosecution.

Indeed, Bovada makes it easy to enjoy their entire network since their valued users never even have to worry about receiving their in an inconvenient fashion. As often as once a month, they will cover all the fees associated with sending out a check by courier to all of their members, meaning there is one less obstacle between you and your winnings. Bet with Bovada and bet happy!

Accepts Bitcoin!
RTG & Betsoft Games
$150K Poker Tourney

Other Recommended SC Gambling Sites

User Rating Average
Accepts Bitcoin!
RTG & Betsoft Games
$150K Poker Tourney
User Rating Average
Live Dealer Casino
Lifetime Bonuses
Skill Based Games
User Rating Average
Smartphone Friendly
Weekly Poker Promos
In-Game Live Betting
User Rating Average
18+ Years Accepted
Friendly Wager Rules
High Betting Limits

Get More Help With South Carolina Gambling Laws


While we at SouthCarolinaGamblingLaws.com stand by the information presented on this page as factual and accurate, we are not lawyers, and therefore this cannot be considered a legal consultation. Any further questions should be directed towards lawyer or to the searchable South Carolina gambling laws, which can be found here; much of the information on this website was translated directly from the pages of the state's gaming legislation.