South Carolina Horse Owners Advocate for Pari-Mutuel Betting to be Implemented


Published on: November 9, 2023, 12:35h. 

Last updated on: November 8, 2023, 05:06h.

In South Carolina, the horse racing community is advocating for the passing of legislation to allow pari-mutuel wagering on horse races. The renewed calls will coincide with the state legislature convening in January 2024.

South Carolina horsemen pari-mutuel betting
The 2022 Aiken Fall Steeplechase. The 2023 steeplechase is set for Saturday, November 18. For another year, legal pari-mutuel betting will be off limits, as such wagering remains prohibited in South Carolina. (Image: Aiken Steeplechase Association)

With limited gambling options, South Carolina only allows lottery gaming and charity raffles. The state prohibits commercial or tribal casinos, sports betting, and pari-mutuel wagering. iGaming is also banned in the state.

The push for legalizing pari-mutuel betting follows the 2000 approval of the South Carolina Education Lottery. Momentum is growing as the 2023 Aiken Fall Steeplechase event approaches.

The Aiken Fall Steeplechase is one of South Carolina’s top horse racing events for horsemen.

Aiken Steeplechase Association President Frank Mullins asserts that there is already significant illicit wagering occurring in South Carolina. His comments come in light of the renewed calls for pari-mutuel betting legislation.

Pari-mutuel wagering differs from sports betting in that the final payout isn’t determined until the pool is closed. Pari-mutuel bettors wager against each other, and not against the house. Facilitators take a small percentage of the pool and distribute the remainder to winning bets.

South Carolina Pari-Mutuel Bill Progress

Earlier this year, House Bill 3514 was introduced by Rep. Russell Ott, seeking to legalize pari-mutuel bets on horse races in South Carolina. The bill gained House support in April, but has since stalled in the state Senate due to conservative opposition.

Conservative resistance to expanding gaming, including opposition from Gov. Henry McMaster, remains a major hurdle to legalizing pari-mutuel wagering in South Carolina.

Support for Legal Pari-Mutuel Betting

Supporters of legal pari-mutuel wagering argue that it would provide critical revenue for horse racing. A 10% tax on pari-mutuel proceeds, as proposed by Ott’s bill, would be allocated to a newly established Equine Industry Development Fund.

Mullins urges advocates of legal betting to continue voicing their support and engaging with legislators to drive the legalization of pari-mutuel wagering in South Carolina.

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