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  • Alyssa Lyons

WRDW12: Push is on for S.C. betting ahead of Fall Steeplechase

AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - With the 30th running of the Fall Steeplechase in Aiken just days away, there’s a fresh push to keep sports wagering at the top of lawmakers’ list.

At the close of the last legislative session, House Bill 3514 passed the House Judiciary Committee and is now set to appear before the South Carolina Senate in January.

“This is already going on in the state of South Carolina, just by really intelligent people who know how to make their phone think it’s somewhere else. There’s a lot of money that’s being wagered in South Carolina, but we don’t get any cut of it, and we don’t regulate it,” said Frank Mullins, President of the Aiken Steeplechase Association.

If it makes its way to the top, it’ll be the next after North Carolina. The Tar Heel state legalized online sports wagering earlier this year.

The law is set to go into effect Jan. 8, 2024.

Under the bill named the Equine Advancement Act, South Carolina would adopt an advance-deposit wagering system where a bettor funds the account before placing a bet.

“There are limits on how much you can put in. There are limits on how much you can wager. The benefits from all this will be the equine industry in South Carolina” said Bill Gutfarb, President at the Aiken Training Track.

Commissions from advance-deposit wagering licenses would additionally create the Equine Industry Development Fund, which could help racetracks like the Aiken Training Track.

“It’s a huge financial struggle to keep this going. I mean, this is what you’re looking at right now is very expensive to maintain. Just to paint the fence is to cut the grass, drag the track, all the fertilizer, I can say that from the operation that we run, it is very maintenance intensive. It takes a lot to do it,” said Mullins.

To show how ADW works, Mullins and lawmakers went to the Virginia Gold Cup. There, bettors can be placed at the track and online.

“I think it went over very well. I think they saw that it was very successful,” said Mullins.

It would keep horses competing in the Palmetto State, who lately have taken their talents to Florida and Kentucky.

“One woman had a horse that won the other day at Aqueduct (NY) and I said ‘Did it make some money?’ It paid $102 on a $2 bet. She said, ‘No, get that bill passed, I can’t bet here,’” Gutfarb.

Gutfarb said passing the legislation would attract more trainers and horses to Aiken. It’s a silent nod that the state is moving forward with thoroughbred horse racing.

Until the session resumes in January, Mullins and Gutfarb are asking one thing to make bettor’s luck, a reality.:

“What’s left to do is just keep talking it up. If you see a legislator talk it up. Do you want to write a letter to the governor? Write a letter to the governor,” said Gutfarb.

Copyright 2023 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.


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