Gambling: Why it is such a problem in South Carolina Connor Shaw, Ethan Risley, and Jack Dwyer

Ads like these commonly run in South Carolina even though there are still laws in place that prohibit gambling in the state. It still remains illegal to place a wager on any sports game or on any card game. So, why is gambling such a problem in the state of South Carolina?

While formal gambling, such as placing a bet on a card game in a casino, still remains illegal in the state, it is still an option to gamble away one's money on the lottery. The reason why people get involved in this type of behavior is because they believe they will "hit it big" even though the chances of doing so are so slim ("Risk Factors for Developing a Gambling Problem"). This false hope of winning is what brings people back to the convenience stores to waste more money on the lottery.

"People in households earning under $40,000 accounted for 28 percent of the state’s population, 31.3 percent of lottery players and 53.4 percent of frequent players" (Thompson)

The people who are spending money on the lottery are clearly those who cannot afford to be playing the lottery. The reason they are playing the lottery is because the outside chance that they could win can possibly drag them out from below the poverty line or something less dramatic such as help pay for next months bills ("Risk Factors for Developing a Gambling Problem"). This, however, keeps people in poverty due to the gambling away of one's earnings.

The bigger problem, however, is video gambling. Like the lottery, people feel a sense of false hope that they will win it big, and thus spend hours at machines like the one pictured above in hopes of winning. Video poker is a relatively low stakes gamble, yet, due to the ease of clicking around for another hand, many people end up losing large sums of money (Horwitz). Also, the ease of this style of gambling and the little amount of skill that is required to play causes people to play many hands back to back to back (Horwitz). This way it is easy to gamble large sums of money away.

Playing hands quickly fuels the addiction and so does the instant gratification of winning a hand ("Risk Factors for Developing a Gambling Problem").

Another reason video poker is so addictive is because it is a private game (Horwitz). It is so private that people don't feel shamed by losing many hands back to back while they may if they were gambling at a black jack table in a casino in front of others. There is no negative pressures to keep people away from these machines.

This style of gambling has caused such a problem within the state of South Carolina because the states has some of the widest-open gambling. Video poker is available in many gas stations and convenience stores to allow people to fuel their addiction at any moment and gamble away more of their money (Rotter). There are so many machines available that it is an estimated 2 billion dollar industry in South Carolina while the state budget is only 5.4 billion (Deaton).

Even when people feel as if they have failed for the day, the low stakes and the thought that "I'll just win my money back with the next hand" is what keeps these people gambling. Although, who is to say that the chances to win the game are even fair.

Due to the fact that the video gambling market is so new and largely unregulated, it is difficult to know if the gambling machines are even honest (Deaton). Who knows if there really is a fair chance to win; and if there isn't a fair chance to win, then the machines are simply robbing people of their money. Along the same lines it is difficult to know if the machines give an honest payout (Horwitz).

"I wish this was outlawed," she says, "because I'm addicted and I can't stop" (Horwitz).

With the availability of gambling within the state, and its high risk for addiction, it is easy to see why people are seeking help for their gambling addiction. Gamblers anonymous has increased from only eight chapters to twenty-seven chapters in South Carolina due to the large number of gambling addicted people (Horwitz). However, even with this increase in help groups, the state has done very little in regards to fixing gambling addiction due to the fact that, as stated earlier, formal gambling remains illegal within the state. Gamblers cannot quit on their own, they need help from those around them because going cold turkey is essentially ineffective (Rotter).

Not only does gambling affect a person's bank account, but it also negatively affects a person's whole lifestyle. Gambling can rule someones life and can negatively affect retirement, one's job, and a person's family (Rotter).

It is clear there is a need for change in South Carolina in regards to gambling. There need to be more regulations placed on video gambling and an increase in the states initiative to reduce the number of people addicted to gambling.

Works Cited

Deaton, Todd. "Lottery Is State-sponsored Gambling, Not Education Aid, S.C. Rally-goers Told." Baptist Press. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2016. <>.

Horwitz, Tony. "South Carolina Is Dealing With A Messy Video-Poker Addiction." WSJ., 02 Dec. 1997. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

"Risk Factors for Developing a Gambling Problem." California Council on Problem Gambling. N.p., 16 June 2012. Web. 28 Nov. 2016. <>.

Rotter, Joseph C. "Curing Problem or Pathological Gambling: Don’t Bet on It." The Family Journal: Counseling and Therapy for Couples and Families Fam J 12.1 (2004): 37-39. Web.

Thompson, William M., Ph. D. "An Economic Analysis of Machine Gambling in South Carolina." (n.d.): n. pag. Web. <>.


Created with images by iotae - "Samantha on the slots" • andrewmalone - "Not a winner" • Tax Credits - "Money in Hand" • Stewart Black - "Despair" • moerschy - "money bank note euro" • lwpkommunikacio - "Ismerős gyilkos" • katgrigg - "Family"

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