CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - If you watched the Super Bowl over the weekend and had a little wager placed on the game, you weren’t alone. But as 30 states around the country have now legalized sports gambling, South Carolina still has not. One of the candidates running for governor has said, he’s hoping to change that.
It’s estimated that more than 31 million Americans wagered over 7 billion dollars on the big game this past weekend but South Carolina doesn’t get any part of that revenue because sports betting is still not legal here. Joe Cunningham, who’s running for governor, thinks it’s time to change that as he proposed legalizing it should he get elected.
“This is about freedom, this is about liberty.” Cunningham said this week. “This is about not allowing politicians to tell people you can’t put 20 dollars down on the Super Bowl when people are already doing it. We might as well generate a little bit of tax revenue to fix the problems that have been piling up.”
Cunningham says not having sports betting legalized is causing the state to fall behind neighbors from North Carolina and Georgia. He thinks the choice for whether or not people bet should be up to the individuals.
“I think we should trust people to make their own decisions on sports betting and be able to place a wager.” he said. “And if we can fix our roads and pay our teachers a little bit more in the process, even better”
The former Congressman estimates that legalizing sports gambling could bring in anywhere from 40 to 100 million dollars annually in addition to more jobs and there’s plenty of places he thinks that money could help.
“We don’t have a shortage of problems in South Carolina. Anybody who’s driven on our roads understands the infrastructure issues we have here. I think we need to pay our teachers more, I think there’s a lot of ideas we can look at”
The candidate says with his experience of working with both parties during his time in congress, makes him just the right person to put this through.
“It’s such a hyper partisan environment where democrats and republicans can’t even agree on what day it is. There are still things that we can build upon and common ground and I feel like this is one of them and if there’s somebody to do it, I’ve got the track record to do it”
Governor Henry McMaster didn’t have a comment on the proposal according to his spokesperson but he has long been against the state authorizing gambling saying in the past that it “flies in the face of everything South Carolina stands for.”
We reached out to the other candidates in the state running for governor, Mia McLeod and Gary Votour, for their opinions on the proposal but they did not respond.