South Carolina Casinos and Gambling

South Carolina doesn’t have any casino options in the state, but you can find casino games if you’re willing to travel a few miles off shore on a special casino ship.

Poker and sports betting are also outlawed in the state, but lottery and bingo games are both available. The state runs the lottery options and bingo is available at one tribal location and some charitable establishments.

I’ve included a short overview of the casino cruise options available as well as information about other gambling options for residents of South Carolina.

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Casinos

The Big M Casino – Departing from Little River near Myrtle Beach, the Big M Casino is located on a boat that travels into international waters.

Big M Casino offers popular casino games like slot machines, blackjack, video poker, craps, roulette, three card poker, Let It Ride, and Texas holdem.

You can board one of two different boats. A seasonal boat goes out six times a week during operating season and the regular ship launches 13 times per week.

Launch times for the seasonal ship are Thursday through Monday at 10 AM and on Saturdays at 5:30 PM.

The other ship launches every morning except Monday at 11 AM, and every evening at 6:45 PM.

All cruises include an all you can eat buffet that includes the following special buffet nights:

• Wednesday – Prime Rib Night
• Thursday – Italian Night
• Friday – Seafood & Prime Rib Night

One of the marketing messages the Big M Casino includes in most of their advertising is the fact that they pay more big jackpots than anywhere else in the state. I don’t know if this is supposed to be funny or if it’s a serious message, but since they offer the only casino games associated with the state I think it’s kind of funny.

Carnival Cruise Line – Called the Fantasy, the Carnival Cruise Line ship launches from Charleston, South Carolina.
The ship offers over 6,000 square feet of gambling space, over 180 gaming machines, 16 table games, blackjack, craps, and roulette.

Poker

The Big M casino does have a few poker tables, but going through the hassle of boarding a ship for a few hours of play doesn’t make it a great option for serious players.

Poker players often play for hours at a time, so having a time limit is an issue for many players.

The only other options for poker players in South Carolina are finding a local underground game or traveling to Florida.

Sports Betting in South Carolina

South Carolina doesn’t have any legal sports betting available. Residents still place bets in office pools, especially around the March Madness tournament just like everywhere else in the United States, but this is technically illegal.

You can also place bets with local bookies around most fair sized and larger cities or find an online sports book that’s willing to take your action.

Any time you look for options to place wagers in a state that makes it illegal you need to determine if the risk is larger than the possible reward.

Sports bettors, either when placing bets with bookies or online, don’t usually face charges, but that doesn’t make it ok in the eyes of the law.

Remember that they didn’t get Al Capone on charges covering his worst crimes. They found lesser charges that they could prove. The point I’m trying to make is if law enforcement starts looking at you, illegal gambling can be a fairly easy charge to prove.

Race Tracks

Though South Carolina has popular racing events, the state doesn’t have any active race tracks or race books.

Popular yearly racing events held in the state include the Carolina Cup, Colonial Cup, and Charleston Cup.
Lottery

South Carolina residents can play the state run lottery or the national Powerball or Mega Millions drawings. The lottery commission in South Carolina, called the South Carolina Education Lottery, is run to benefit education interests in the state.
In addition to the national lottery games you can play Lucky for Life, Instant Games, and Palmetto Cash 5 with Power Up, Pick 4, Pick 3, and Cash Count Up.

Bingo

South Carolina has one bingo hall operated by a Native American Indian tribe. The Catawba Bingo Hall is located in Rock Hill, South Carolina and represents the closest thing to a gambling mecca in the state.

The state also allows limited bingo operations for charitable purposes. A large company named the Littlefield Corporation operates bingo halls in multiple states and they currently operate over 10 bingo halls in SouthCarolina.

Slot Machine Ownership

If you live in South Carolina the ownership of slot machines is completely prohibited. Most states allow ownership of slots that are 25 years or older, but South Carolina completely prohibits ownership.

Conclusion

South Carolina is one of the least gambling friendly states in the nation. Most states have at least a few options so they can keep as many tax dollars in the state as possible, but South Carolina doesn’t seem to be close to doing the same.

Like other states that don’t offer any legal forms of casino, poker, and sports betting options South Carolina forces their residents to leave the state to place bets or do so illegally while remaining in the state.

While it’s obvious I support the freedom of people to choose whether to gamble or not, it doesn’t change the fact that states can make more tax money by allowing gambling and taxing it than ignoring it.

Do the states think their residents aren’t gambling?

If you live in South Carolina and want to gamble legally your only options are buying a lottery ticket, finding a legal bingo hall, or travel out of state.

References