North Carolina Online Wagering Bill to See Increased Tax Rate in the House

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The long-awaited North Carolina online gambling bill is finally up for discussion by the House committee next week.

The House lawmakers next week plan to increase licensing fees and the tax rate in the Senate Bill 688 which cleared the state Senate last year. It has been awaiting action in the House throughout this year’s legislative session that concludes June 30.

The House Judiciary Committee will hear SB 688 on Tuesday and another bill that will be amended to be an accompanying sports wagering measure, according to Rep. Jason Saine, the bill’s House sponsor.

The original measure was estimated to bring $8 million to $24 million annually in tax revenue to the state.

The Tar Heel State kicked off its 2022 session with a vow to legalize North Carolina online wagering. However, just two weeks before the end of the current legislative session, the state lawmakers have not touched the bill that would launch up to 12 mobile operators in North Carolina.

Currently, North Carolina allows in-person sports betting limited to a few casinos.

The industry analysts are still hopeful that legal mobile betting could become a reality this year. However, the NC lawmakers have barely two weeks to take decisive steps.

What’s in the New North Carolina Online Wagering Bill?

The revised version of SB 688 for possible consideration by the House includes significant changes. Under this, the sportsbook operators would pay $1 million – up from $500,000 in the original draft – to obtain a five-year license.

A renewal fee would cost operators $1 million, up from $100,000 in the original bill.

According to the WRAL report, the proposed 8% tax rate on gross wagering revenue would be increased to 14% in the new bill.

Another proposed change to the SB 688 would double the fees for sports betting supplier licenses from $15,000 to $30,000 and the service provider licenses from $25,000 to $50,000.

However, the new bill will retain the number of licenses for 10-12 entities, including professional sports venues of teams in the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and MLS. In addition, some pro golf tournament hosts and select motorsport facilities could also be awarded licenses.

New Bill Will Include Horse Race Betting

The new bill, which was sent to stakeholders Thursday, did not include betting on horse races. However, it will be added to the new proposal before the House committee’s hearing on Tuesday.

“We had members that called for that, and I would probably like to support it,” Saine said.

Sen. Paul Lowe, a co-sponsor of SB 688, has been backing adding horse racing to the sports wagering bill.

The revised bill, if passed by the House, will go back to the Senate for a final vote. NC lawmakers must iron out the issues surrounding sports betting legislation by the end of June or wait another year to bring legal mobile wagering in the Tar Heel State.

According to Saine, legal sports betting could come to the state sometime this fall.

“September, October, I don’t think it’s unreasonable. I think it’s probably a little later.”

The chairman of the House appropriations committee said he would hate to lose that revenue. However, he said they’re not going to go too fast to where they can’t handle it.

How Have We Reached Here?

The North Carolina Senate cleared SB 688 last August by a divided vote of 26-19. The upper chamber then sent the measure to the House for consideration. The North Carolina wagering bill has been sitting in a House Judiciary Committee since the start of this year’s session.

The committee, which normally meets on Tuesdays, is not scheduled to meet this week. However, it may hold an emergency meeting at any time.

If the Judiciary committee clears the Senate bill, it needs similar approval from more committees before its lands on the House floor for a vote.

If the House approves the revised version of SB 688, it will then go back to the Senate for the concurrence.

Only after that will it be sent to Gov. Roy Cooper for his consideration.

Cooper, who openly supports North Carolina online wagering, is expected to sign the bill into law if the two chambers reach an agreement by the next two weeks.

The 2022 North Carolina legislative session ends June 30.

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