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Gambling Laws in South Carolina

South Carolina has some of the strictest gambling laws in the US.

Section 16-19-40 of the South Carolina Code of Laws (SCCL) punishes with a fine of $100 and 30 days imprisonment anyone caught gambling. The section lists a long list of different methods which are not permitted, including “any game with cards and dice, any gaming table... any machine or device... used for gambling.”

Retail Casinos & Forbidden Tables

With the above in mind, you will not be surprised that retail casinos are forbidden in the Palmetto State. But the law does not stop there. Section 16-19-50 prohibits residents from owning any gaming tables, and Section 16-19-70 prohibits SC residents from playing any game — yes, even Monopoly — on the Sabbath.

Betting on elections, betting pools, and bookmaking are also all prohibited within the same statue. Equally, sports betting and online poker are also a no go. South Carolina really does offer one of the most hostile environments for gaming of any kind.

If you need live action, the closest brick-and-mortar casino is Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in North Carolina at just under 200 miles away from Columbia and over 300 miles away from Charleston. Your other choice is to hop aboard one of South Carolina’s several Riverboat gambling cruises (more on those later).

Online Gambling

Some point out that online gambling is not specifically prohibited in the SCCL. Whilst this may be true, if we look at the overall spirit of the law in South Carolina as outlined above, it would be truly amazing if online gambling was allowed whilst gaming on the Sabbath was not. More likely in our view, the statute has not been updated to include online gambling — parts of this statute first came into existence in 1802.

However, if you are determined to try online gambling in South Carolina, we would recommend speaking to an attorney before making the plunge.

State Lottery in South Carolina

So, what are residents of South Carolina allowed to do? The state lottery is the only shining light in the whole equation, as you can see in the summarized statistic down below:

Lottery Ticket Sales by State in 2021 (in billion U.S. dollars)
South Carolina2.4
New York8.6
New Jersey3.7
Stats courtesy of Statista

For the most aThe state brings in $2.4 billion dollars in sales annually. Residents have access to local lotteries as well as Powerball and Mega Millions. The minimum age for playing the lottery is 18 years old.

Will South Carolina build on the success of the lottery and legalize more forms of gambling? We wouldn’t bet on it.

Future of Online Gambling in South Carolina

We don’t anticipate any positive changes to the online casino landscape in the state of South Carolina. A look at the state’s view towards brick-and-mortar casinos and gambling in general should be enough of an indicator where they’re looking to go with South Carolina online casinos.

South Carolina just re-elected Governor Henry McMaster, defeating Democrat opponent Joe Cunningham who had shown himself open to legalizing sports betting. His defeat does not bode well for the future of gambling in South Carolina.

Expect the status quo to continue for some time in the Palmetto state. The only changes we could see are legislation to push out the offshore operators. Nothing is in the pipeline we are aware of, but that is more likely than positive gambling laws at least within the next 2-5 years.

History of Gambling in South Carolina

1802: South Carolina Legislature prohibits all forms of gambling.

 1976: Bingo Act passes and permits charitable gaming in limited circumstances.

1991: Video gambling machines legalized.

1999: South Carolina Supreme Court rules that video gambling machines are illegal after outcry proceeding from tragic death of Joy Baker.

 2001: South Carolina Lottery set up.

2008: Gambling cruises legalized.

How We Rank Casinos

If and when online casinos are permitted in South Carolina, we already know how we would rank them.

When analyzing online casinos, our reviewers use apply the highest standards across our set framework. We are confident that if online casinos perform well in the following categories, they are likely a top online casino. We hunt for the best to give you the best.

Game Variety & Quality

Nobody wants to have to join multiple online casinos to play the games they want. We play online for convenience, and part of that convenience is having the ability to play every casino game under one roof. When we’re selecting the top casinos, we look heavily at what games are offered.


We’re looking for many different games, choices in rule sets, multiple versions, and more.

Additionally, we only give credit for high-quality casino game options. Having a million different garbage options is the same as having zero options in our book. All of the casinos we recommend have hundreds of different high-quality casino games for you to choose from.

Safety & Security

These are a few of the elements we look for when casino sites on their safety and security.

The internet can be a dangerous place, but it doesn’t have to be. If the online betting sites do their part, they can keep you and your money safe. But this requires them to dedicate financial and logistical assets to the process. In other words, they need to care.

When judging an online casino’s offerings, we like to see the following:

  • High-grade site encryption installed

  • Dedicated security teams on staff

  • Proper processes in place to ensure safe gaming

  • Regularly updated games, servers, and systems

  • Scheduled security audits

You won’t see any casinos recommended here unless they pass our rigorous safety and security checks.

Customer Service

No one gambles online expecting to need help. But there will come a time where you’ll need help from one of the gambling sites you’re playing at. You may need to check on the status of something, get an explanation regarding a casino promotion, or ask for a gaming recommendation. When you need help, you’ll want high-quality customer service agents at the ready.

The online casino sites we recommended all excel in customer service.

  • Agents available 24/7, 365 days out of the year

  • Multiple avenues of contact (phone, email, chat, social media, contact form, etc.)

  • Fluent in English

  • Able to handle requests (not just a secretary)

  • Not farmed out to the lowest bidder

Bonuses & Promotions

With so much competition, online casinos need to be generous in order to win and retain your business. Because of this, we only select casinos which are the most generous of all.

How generous is most generous? Generous casinos win customers with big welcome bonuses and then keep them with frequent reload bonuses and VIP programs. The greater variety of promotions and bonuses, the better.

Payment Options

Online casinos wouldn’t be half the fun without money. You need to get in, win and get out as easily as possible. Top online casinos have the following:

  • A wide range of payment options, including legacy methods and cryptocurrencies.
  • Lows deposit and withdrawal fees
  • Fast payout times

UI & Mobile Experience

Online casinos need to offer a great user experience. Because their business is online, this in a large part comes down to the user interface and the overall mobile experience that they offer their clients.

What does a top user interface and mobile experience look like? They are easy to use, fast, and easy on the eye. It’s important that the casino’s app has been optimized for mobile too.

Casino Cruises

If you are in South Carolina you will need to head offshore in order to get your gambling fix. Since 2008, cruise casinos have been allowed to operate from the SC coast.

The casino ships head out to international waters. Once there, you can play all your favorite casino games. The ships normally offer an array of slots, as well as the standard table games.

Here is a list of the casino cruises currently in South Carolina:

SC Casino CruiseAddressPhone# of Games
Big “M” Casino4491 Mineola Avenue
Little River, SC 29566
Carnival EcstasyCharleston Port
Charleston, SC 29401
Carnival SunshineCharleston Port
Charleston, SC 29401