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  • Becky Budds

WLTX: Could sports betting soon be legal in South Carolina?

CAMDEN, S.C. — South Carolina lawmakers are once again looking to legalize horse race betting in hopes of reviving the state's shrinking equine industry. The Horse industry has a $1.9 billion impact in the state and employs more than 28,000 people, according to a legislative report. But trainers like Kate Dalton say it's shrinking.

"The other states are sort of siphoning the equine industry away from South Carolina," said Dalton, who works at the Springdale Race Course in Camden.

She explained that's because unlike in South Carolina, betting on horses is legal there.

“The more money they bring in the more money they offer and the more money they bring into the equine industry," said Dalton.

Bipartisan legislation known as the "South Carolina Equine Advancement Act" would bring horse race betting to the state.

"People are doing it, and that money is going offshore or somewhere else," said Sen. Katrina Shealy (R-Lexington), who is the bill's lead sponsor.

Under the legislation, bettors could place bets through apps like Fanduel or DraftKings on races across the country.

The bill would only allow pari-mutuel betting, which means Bettors would need to already have money in an account to place a bet and winners would split the pool of money.

Licensing fees and ten percent of profits from wagers would go back to the state, would would distribute that money to the equine community through grant programs.

If signed into law, it could bring up to $14 million annually to the state, according to an analysis done by the Racing Resource Group.

"I would advise everyone to vote for it. It provides a tax free revenue stream which is what I'm always looking for," said Sen. Penry Gustufson (R-Kershaw).

The legislation undoubtedly faces an uphill battle as many state leaders believe gambling is immoral.

Dalton said those in the industry will continue pushing for the bill as trainers livelihoods are at stake.

“I want the training center to be full of horses and overfilling and then I know I can stay in my house for the rest of my life and I’m not one of those people who have to pick up and move my horses to another state, because I don't want to go to another state," said Dalton.

The bill now goes to the Senate floor.

The only legal form of gambling in South Carolina is the lottery.


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