Could South Carolina And Georgia Residents Travel To North Carolina To Bet?

With March Madness starting this week and North Carolina joining the list of states where online sports betting is legal, will South Carolina and Georgia residents be tempted to cross the border to place bets on the NCAA Tournament?

North Carolina online sports betting launched on March 11, with eight online operators taking bets on pro and college sports. That came just in time for the Men’s ACC Basketball Tournament and March Madness. It also created a viable betting option for South Carolina and Georgia fans who don’t have a legal in-state betting option.

Crossing the border to bet is perfectly legal if you’re of age

It’s certainly legal for people 21 and older to cross into North Carolina to place a bet. As Van Denton, communications director for the NC State Lottery Commission, pointed out, going across the border to bet is akin to going to Vegas and legally betting in one of its casinos. In a story last Tuesday in The Rock Herald, Denton noted,

“The North Carolina sports wagering law does not have a residency requirement. A South Carolinian would need to be present in North Carolina, at least 21 years old and not otherwise prohibited from wagering.”

That doesn’t mean that you can register your online account in North Carolina and bet from South Carolina or Georgia, though. Robert Kittle, spokesman for South Carolina’s Attorney General’s Office, said in the same Herald article,

“Online gambling is illegal in South Carolina, regardless of the law in North Carolina or any other state.”

Online sports betting apps rely on geolocation to ensure that bets are being placed in jurisdictions where it’s legal. That doesn’t mean people don’t try to circumvent that. In the most recent Super Bowl, Kansas City Chiefs fans tried to place bets from their phones in Missouri, where lawmakers are currently aiming to legalize sports betting, rather than crossing over into Kansas, where it’s already legal to do so.

Georgia may legalize sports betting, but for now NC is a good option

Georgia may pass its own sports betting bill sooner rather than later, with the first of two related bills originating in the Senate getting its first House hearing this week. But until that happens, bettors in Georgia now have the option of crossing the border into North Carolina to bet.

As for South Carolinians, the Men’s NCAA Tournament will feature a few universities. The University of South Carolina, representing the SEC, and Clemson, representing the ACC, were allotted No. 6 seeds from the NCAA’s selection committee on Sunday. The Gamecocks will face off against No. 11 Oregon in Thursday’s Midwest Regional contest in Pittsburgh, while the Tigers are up against No. 11 New Mexico on Friday in a West Regional matchup in Memphis.

But those two powerhouse conferences aren’t the only ones that South Carolina teams will represent. The College of Charleston is already in the Big Dance by virtue of winning the Coastal Athletic Association Tournament last Tuesday night. The Cougars, like Clemson, ended up in the West Regional, playing No. 4 Alabama as a No. 13 seed.

On the women’s side, perennial power South Carolina is the tournament favorite, getting a No. 1 seed in one of the Albany groups but starting the tourney on Friday in Columbia on its home court.

For Georgia residents looking at both the men’s and women’s tournaments, the Peach State won’t have representation there — but there may be graduates of other schools who have settled in Georgia who will find motivation to bet on their teams.

Billions to be bet on March Madness in 2024

According to an American Gaming Association announcement Thursday, an estimated $2.72 billion is projected to be wagered via American sportsbooks on the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.

It’s not a stretch to believe that, given those projections, some of the combined 15 million residents of North Carolina’s two southern neighbors will follow Virginia’s lead and find their way to the Tar Heel State to bet

And while the University of Georgia missed out on the NCAA tournament, it will see postseason action, playing Xavier on Tuesday in the first round of the NIT. While the Big Dance gets a big share of the bets, Bulldogs fans can still take advantage of NC sportsbook promos and bet on their team this week if they cross the border.

About the Author

Phil West

Phil West is a longtime journalist based in Austin, Texas, whose bylines have appeared in The Daily Dot, Nautilus, Pro Soccer USA, Howler, Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, San Antonio Express-News, Austin American-Statesman, and Austin Chronicle. He has also written two books about soccer.