The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, known more succinctly as PASPA, was repealed in May 2018 after multiple campaigns against the law. The state of New Jersey was at the center of the quest to overturn PASPA, which prohibited sports betting in almost every circumstance in the United States. The Supreme Court ultimately determined that PASPA contravened the Tenth Amendment, with its repeal giving each state the independence to make their own laws on sports betting. In South Carolina, things have stayed exactly the same since PASPA was dissolved.
Why was PASPA repealed?
Nevada was the largest exception to PASPA, with its sports pools given an exemption to the 1992 law. This meant that Nevada had a nationwide monopoly on legal sports betting, a financially advantageous position that attracted the ire of other states. New Jersey was the loudest voice in the campaign against PASPA, with the Garden State enjoying a well-known affinity with gambling thanks to the famous casinos of Atlantic City.
New Jersey introduced several laws before 2018 in the hope of circumventing PASPA, but each of these were deemed to be in violation of the act. However, the Supreme Court relented in May 2018 in the case of Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association (the Murphy in question being Governor Phil Murphy from New Jersey).
In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court declared that PASPA was unconstitutional. PASPA was perceived as a contradiction of the Tenth Amendment, which dictates that states should have the freedom to make their own laws in areas where the federal government has no explicit powers. New Jersey was quick to legalize sports betting after the repeal of PASPA, with Delaware, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia also among those to swiftly permit the practice of both physical and online sports wagering.
What happened in South Carolina?
To answer that question in a couple of words: not much. In 2019, there was a joint attempt by the House and the Senate to alter South Carolina's stance on gambling, by presenting two bills in the form of HJR 3409 and SJR 57. These bills would have amended South Carolina's constitution, thereby legalizing many practices under the umbrella of gambling. This would have included sports betting, a now-viable option a year after PASPA was overturned.
Apparently the AP thinks North Carolina is more likely than South Carolina to legalize gambling within the next five years. pic.twitter.com/ySSOW9XSqw
— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) May 14, 2018
However, these bills were promptly quashed at their first readings to their respective committees. The same fate befell SJR 71, a bill that advocated the formation of a commission that would analyze the potential fiscal benefits of legalized gambling in the state. The dismissal of all three of these bills after one reading has reinforced South Carolina's strict stance against gambling and dissuaded any further action. There have been no bills about sports betting or gambling in general to appear in front of committees in 2020.
Sports are immensely popular in the Palmetto State. From the Carolina Panthers that represent the entire Carolinas to our very own Charleston Battery, nobody can question the state's passion for sport. While legal betting has become a companion to sporting activities in many US states, and indeed many countries across the world, South Carolina lawmakers appear resolved to maintain the separation of sport and gambling.
Why the lack of action shouldn't be a surprise
The absence of progress towards legalizing sports betting in South Carolina won't raise many eyebrows. The state has long taken a firm stance against all forms of gambling, which extends beyond sports betting into the casino industry. Many states have been receptive to allowing online casinos to operate within their borders. Pennsylvania, Iowa, and Delaware are among those to permit access to online casinos, with those states unsurprisingly in the ranks of those to legalize some form of sports betting.
There has been a rise of online casinos in the USA in recent years, with online gambling sites giving players access to games that were previously the preserve of land-based casinos. Popular games that have migrated online in many parts of the country include roulette, baccarat, and blackjack, but the state of play is very different in South Carolina. There are no land-based casinos at all in the state, so setting up online casinos is naturally not a high priority in South Carolina.
Most states that are amenable to the prospects of legal sports betting have a softer stance towards gambling in general, but South Carolina is widely considered only second to Utah in terms of its severity towards gambling. Although not quite as unlikely as the arrival of online casinos in South Carolina, it does appear that the Palmetto State will stay firm in its prohibition of sports betting.
In 2018, Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey called the legalization of sports betting a "tough sell" in South Carolina, while Rep. Bruce Bannister stated that the chances of legislation passing would be very small. Massey and Bannister have been proved right in the subsequent months, and it seems that South Carolina will maintain its position on sports betting despite the freedoms granted by the repeal of PASPA.