Admit it: You want to bet on the Super Bowl.
If you could find a neighborhood bookie, you'd lay down $10.
If you plan to be at a bar or a friend's house and someone is running that $1 buy-a-square game, you'd do that, too.
Some of the bets could be pretty elaborate: Who wins the opening coin toss? Who scores the first points? Who makes the first field goal or commits the first turnover?
It's all in good fun, right? Even if it is technically illegal all across South Carolina.
Sunday marks the largest single betting day in America. More than $10 billion is expected to be wagered, legally and illegally, around the globe on the game.
That includes throughout the Charleston region (a scant 2,300 miles from Lost Wages, Nev.), though how much cash will exchange hands here is virtually impossible to gauge.
"When it's illegal, any estimate you're going to get is going to be questionable," said College of Charleston economics professor Doug Walker.
Former University of Nevada Las Vegas gambling professor Jim Kilby declined to estimate how much of that money will be wagered in a city the size of Charleston, but he said proportionately, he expects it to be higher in the South.
"People there accept it more," he said.
And it is illegal here. State law says that anyone who engages in bookmaking or registering bets on "man or beast" can be found guilty of a gambling misdemeanor. The penalty includes a fine of up to $1,000 and six months in jail.
Still, it is unlikely that law enforcement will show much interest anywhere locally if the betting is restricted to what most would consider low-stakes wagers confined to bars or home parties.
"By and large, that's a function of complaints and specific information coming in about a location," Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon said of what might get the vice squad's attention.
A spokesman for the State Law Enforcement Division said the agency's vice officers could not recall any significant Super Bowl-only related crackdowns in recent memory.
For anyone betting on the game, officials warn that there are red flags to be aware of. First, if you win a bet with someone and that person decides not to pay up, you don't have much of a legal option to enforce a pay off.
Also, if a sponsor wants to take something off the top or for the house, that could be evidence of a wider operation, something that could draw authorities into to investigating.
And beware - there can be danger involved. Last year near Columbia, Jack Parker, the father of Irmo bookie and convicted murderer Brett Parker, was sentenced to federal confinement as the identified leader of an illegal sports betting operation.
His son was convicted of the 2011 murders of his wife, Tammy Jo Parker, and Bryan Capnerhurst, his gambling ring assistant. Debt was one of the issues in the slayings, according to media reports.
For the occasional bettor, Walker, of the College of Charleston, said there's a special kind of rush that's connected to betting on the Super Bowl.
"For many people, having money at stake makes it more fun and meaningful," he said.
Walker also doubts that betting on the end-of-season Super Bowl becomes a gateway into a full-blown gambling addiction.
That's because the outcome of the game usually takes hours to decide (remember all those commercials?), as opposed to something like a slot machine with its almost instantaneous feedback of wins and losses.
He compared a Super Bowl bet to being about as thrilling as buying a lottery ticket days in advance of the big draw, since both have a significant lag time between bet and result.
Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551
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