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South Carolina Bill Moves Forward to Legalize Horse Race Betting

Once again, South Carolina lawmakers are trying to legalize horse racing betting in the hope that the move will revive the state’s dying equine industry. The horse racing industry has a $1.8 billion impact on the state’s economy and employs over 28,000 people. However, horse trainers like Kate Dalton have noted that the industry is slowly shrinking.

According to Dalton, neighboring states are siphoning the equine market away from South Carolina. Dalton works at Camden’s Springdale Race Course and says the main reason why that’s happening is because other states have legalized betting on horse races through land-based and regulated online bookies like Betway, unlike in South Carolina.

Through bipartisan legislation called the South Carolina Equine Advancement Act, the state is also looking to join the bandwagon and legalize horse racing. Under the new legislation, punters will get the opportunity to bet on their favorite horses/ jockeys through apps like Betway across the country. That will present more revenue opportunities like in states that have already legalized horse racing today, while improving the sport in South Carolina.

Earlier this month, the S.C. Equine Advancement Act was unanimously passed by the House Judiciary Committee. The bill allows pari-mutuel betting, meaning that punters will need to have cash in an account for betting, and the winners will split the money. The state will get 10 percent of the profits and licensing fees, before distributing the cash to the equine community using grant programs.

If the bill is signed into law, it has the potential to bring the state about $14 million every year. However, the legislation still faces an uphill task as many leaders in the state believe that gambling and sports betting is an immoral activity. That’s a hardship they’ll need to overcome for the bill to become law, as the livelihood of horse trainers and jockeys in the state is at stake.

According to the state’s Thoroughbred Breeders Association head Jack Sadler, horse racing betting is a service that the South Carolina people need. Most people in the state place horse racing bets through offshore sites, and South Carolina loses the cash in the process. The proposed bill will allow people to place their wagers online, without any brick-and-mortar establishment.

The SC Equine Commission might approve about three licenses for offering Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW) in the state. A huge part of this money will go into improving South Carolina’s equine industry, helping boost the shrinking horse market.

South Carolina lawmakers have long been hesitant to legalize even the smallest form of gambling activity, fearing that it might trigger a chain reaction that makes it a gambling state. However, several stakeholders contend that it’s time the state started reaping the tax benefits from gambling activities since it’s already happening through unlawful channels.

According to the state department of agriculture, horse racing is a viable market in South Carolina. This market contributes over $1.8 billion annually to the state economy and legalizing betting activities in the sport could double this revenue.

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