Down in South Carolina, gambling is relatively frowned upon. While in some states there are leniencies given to tribal casinos and poker rooms, South Carolina is not afforded that luxury. That doesn’t mean that lovers of Texas Hold’em and other poker games are completely shut out, but it does make it a little more complicated to find games to play.
That’s where this page should help – it gives readers an overview of the current status of poker in the state. This includes both land-based and online poker, as well as giving players some options of where to play to get the most out of their experience.
Online Poker in South Carolina
In a state as conservative as South Carolina, online poker players were thrilled to be able to access real money cash games and tournaments when sites like Poker Stars and Party Poker entered the U.S. market in the early 2000s. Players from across the state were able to join in games against other Americans and players from around the world, and this, combined with the massive influx of televised poker, gave many aspirations of one day being on the big screen.
Unfortunately, the real money online poker boom was not meant to last in that format. The operators were based offshore, and the government didn’t like the idea of all this money flowing outside the country where it could not be taxed. So, rather than making it illegal, the government made banking transactions illegal, which scared half the sites away in 2006. The sites that remained open to U.S. players were eventually indicted and shut down in 2011. Since then, real money poker has remained nothing more than a dream for those living in South Carolina.
Land Based Poker in South Carolina
The news was not good for poker players across the United States when the online real money poker sites left in 2011. However, in South Carolina, the news was compounded by the fact there are no live poker rooms in the state. Players who had learned to play the game or had improved their skills online have nowhere local to be able to continue their poker journey.
Unfortunately, the states around South Carolina are also a bit sparse when it comes to local poker rooms. North Carolina offers a couple (check out our NC page for details), but that about it aside from traveling all the way to Florida. It doesn’t appear as though the state government plans to expand gaming in the state anytime soon, so poker players in the state will continue to have to look for alternatives.
Social Poker in South Carolina
With no real money online or land-based poker available in South Carolina, what are residents to do? Well, the first step is to look at what other poker is available, starting with the social poker sites that came to prominence in the early 2010s. These sites do not offer real money games, but they do offer tables and tournaments that feature thousands of concurrent users. The game is played for recognition purposes, with players moving up the ranks by completing tasks and by winning hands. Players who are more interested in finding good competition without taking the time to advance from the beginning can buy enough chips to skip levels (they cost real money, remember). These games are a great way to keep your skills sharp even if it is a different vibe than playing for real money.
Sweepstakes Poker in South Carolina
Another option available to players in South Carolina is playing at one of the sweepstakes sites that exist in the market. Companies like Global Poker have found a way to award prizes in a sweepstakes format by using poker tournaments and cash games. By registering for the site and buy virtual currency that can be used at some tables but has no cash value, these sites offer sweepstakes entries for free, which can be used to play in events that do allow winnings to be converted to cash. This allows these sites to operate in almost all of the states, including South Carolina.
Mobile Poker in South Carolina
Playing poker on your phone or tablet is easier than ever before. Although you can’t access real money games from your mobile device in South Carolina like you can in a handful of states or around the world, there are many free-play apps available for download. These apps will give you a great indication of the differences between playing on a PC and a mobile device. With the advances in mobile technology, the games played on phones are fast and easy to maneuver, meaning you can jump into a hand whenever you feel like as long as you have an Internet connection. Check out the app store of your device for the options available to you and get in the game!
Online Poker in South Carolina FAQ
What about these real money poker sites I hear about on podcasts? Are they available to play with?
Some small online poker sites continue to push their luck and accept players from South Carolina and other states. The fact that you are heading ads for these companies in podcasts shows how the system is a bit broken -if these sites are illegal, then why are they allowed to advertise so brazenly? Well, they aren’t technically illegal, but playing with them comes with some added risk. The payment methods available to American players are less than stellar, and the fact that these sites are not bound to any legal ramifications means your balance is always at risk.
I see that online sports betting is coming to some states, and that online poker is legal in some states as well. Why is it taking so long in South Carolina?
With the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in May 2018, the floodgates opened to allow legal sports betting at a state level. Yes, a handful of states like Michigan and West Virginia have passed more comprehensive legislation including online poker, but given how slow South Carolina is to move on anything gambling-related, we doubt anything substantial will happen for the next couple of years at least.