South Carolina’s gambling laws are among the most restrictive in the U.S., with just three legal games of chance: bingo, raffles, and the state lottery.
When it comes to horse racing, it wasn’t always so.
Because state law makes wagering on horse racing illegal, no providers of online betting known as advance-deposit wagering (ADW) currently accept customers from the state. And because the state is planted deep in what is commonly called the Bible Belt, it’s a long drive to find live racing, with Florida, Kentucky, and Virginia being the nearest states that offer the sport.
South Carolina Horse Betting Overview
The first mention of a horse race in a Palmetto State newspaper occurred in 1734, the same year a Jockey Club was formed in Charleston, according to SteeplechaseofCharleston.com.
Soon organized races began to take place in places like Charleston, Edisto, Jacksonborough, Pocotaligo, and Strawberry Ferry. Following the American Revolutionary War, racing continued to greatly increase in popularity.
The Washington Race Course in Charleston, which ran around what is now Hampton Park, attracted thousands of spectators every February for what was the beginning of the winter social season in the city.
“It was this particular race that boosted horse racing in Charleston to a level that has lasted generations,” the steeplechase group, which presents the only current horse racing in the state each November, without betting. “The course was first used in 1792 for the Jockey Club Purse. This race consisted of four heats, each run with the same horses and riders. Spectators would spend time between heats making new wagers and exploring the racetrack grounds.”
The state lost a high percentage of its racing stock during the Civil War, and experienced a massive economic downturn after the war, essentially killing the sport. As a result, the Jockey Club was disbanded for good in 1899.
Fun fact about gambling in South Carolina
Despite its anti-gambling laws, South Carolina saw rapid growth in video poker machines in the 1990s. But in 1999 the state Supreme Court ruled that they were unconstitutional, and by June 2000, all were shut down.
Horse Race Tracks in South Carolina
- Aiken Training Track
- Springdale Race Course
- Stono Ferry Racetrack
- McCutchen Training center
South Carolina horse racing remains a pure spectator sport, with no wagering allowed.
Currently, there are no legal options to bet on horses online or from a mobile device in South Carolina. Betting in-person is also prohibited across South Carolina.
There are no off-track betting facilities in South Carolina. All pari-mutuel betting is illegal in the state.
No, it doesn’t operate in the state like other ADW providers.