Is Las Vegas coming to Myrtle Beach? What S.C.’s laws say about gambling and casinos

A Facebook post has Myrtle Beach residents wondering if a casino would ever open on the Grand Strand.

Posted April 1, 2024, in the Myrtle Beach, SC Facebook Group, a user claimed that Wind Creek Casino & Resorts was opening a new casino on the Grand Strand in 2028. However, the post was likely an April Fool’s joke, City of Myrtle Beach Director of Public Information Mark Kruea said, and is incorrect.

Wind Creek did not return a request for comment before publication.

Although the post generated much conversation, even users pointed out it was likely an April Fool’s prank. Indeed, building a casino on the Grand Strand is impossible for one simple reason.

The hallmarks of a casino, which include blackjack, craps and roulette tables alongside slot machines and other card games, are all illegal in the Palmetto State.

South Carolina’s Title 16 Chapter 19 of the Code of Laws explicitly bans operating a gambling store or tables. While casino boats are in the area, no gambling operations are allowed on South Carolina soil besides the lottery. South Carolina is also in the minority of states where sports betting is not legal.

Efforts to change the state’s gambling status quo have gone nowhere as well. S.C. Republican Representative Chris Murphy of Dorchester County, Democratic Minority Leader J. Todd Rutherford of Richland County and other sponsors introduced a bill to allow certain types of sports betting Jan. 19, 2023.

The bill, H. 3749, is still residing in the house. While laws can change over time, hospitality experts in the state are less than enthusiastic about bringing gambling to the Myrtle Beach area.

Scott Smith is an associate professor at the University of South Carolina’s School of Hospitality and Tourism. Smith studies attraction management and revenue management, and he said casinos would not help the Myrtle Beach vacation economy as some might expect.

Aside from the fact that it would probably attract uninformed players instead of experienced gamblers, Smith said that casinos are no longer as unique a property as they once were. As gambling becomes more prevalent across the United States, diluting the appeal of massive casinos and places like Las Vegas that would serve as more of a draw than a Grand Strand option, Smith added that online gaming has somewhat made them less valuable investments.

“People think that legalizing gambling is this kind of silver bullet or magic solution,” Smith said in a February 2024 interview. “It might bring more problems and issues than it would in helping because you might get people that would just go right to the casino and they wouldn’t shop or use the restaurants.”