North Carolina sports betting bill cleared another state Senate committee on Monday less than a week after it was approved by the finance committee. The legislation must still clear two more Senate committees before heading to the floor for a full vote.
Senate Bill 688 was moved to the state Senate Judiciary Committee Monday after it was passed by the Senate Finance Committee last Wednesday. The legislative proposal now moves to another Senate committee – Commerce and Insurance.
SB 688 has a counterpart proposal in the state House of Representatives – House Bill 631. Both measures seek to expand gambling in Old North State.
After months of inaction, the NC sports betting bill has received bipartisan support, overcoming concerns from some lawmakers that the legislation will increase gambling addiction.
What Happened on Monday?
On Monday, Sen. Jim Perry – a Republican and bill sponsor – said a small number of Americans are likely to become gambling addicts and will find ways to fulfill their habits in those areas that allow legalized sports betting. The senator had earlier said it’s easy for anyone to place a digital bet, arguing that it makes sense to legalize these activities and generate revenue.
Perry also discussed legal penalties for multiple violations such as engaging in sports betting in violation of the bill, engaging in the activity under the age of 21, conspiring to influence the outcome of a game subject to sports betting, and giving inaccurate information on a license application.
SB 688 Would Regulate Gambling Advertisements
One of the most dominating questions in Monday’s committee meeting was the types of permissible advertising. However, the proponents of sports betting told committee members the bill did set certain barriers regarding advertising.
In the last week’s finance committee meeting too, two public comments came against SB 688, including one from Rev. Mark Creech, of the Christian Action League. Both argued that the bill would create new addicts and inflict further harm on those who already suffer.
But Perry noted that the legislation will only regulate what’s already taking place in the state.
If the bill clears North Carolina’s two chambers and Gov. Roy Cooper signs it into law, the state’s Education Lottery commission would issue up to 12 sports betting operator licenses.
SB 688 would increase gambling options for the residents by including mobile and retail sports betting via licensed venues where sports betting would take place through mobile apps.
The North Carolina tribes, which already offer retail sports betting, will also be able to provide expanded offerings.
Half of the net proceeds from sports betting – including an 8% tax on gross revenues – would go to a special fund to pull sporting events. The remaining half would go to the state’s coffers.
According to the legislature’s fiscal staff, North Carolina would raise a projected $8 to $24 million annually.
How Have We Reached Here?
North Carolina launched limited retail sports betting for two tribal casinos in March 2021, nearly two years after legalizing limited sports betting in July 2019.
Even though it has been almost 16 years since Old North State authorized a state-run lottery, some legislators still oppose expanded gambling. But SB 688 steered through the first two Senate committees within a week and needs to clear two more before it is taken up for a full vote in the legislature.
SB 688 – which also has a Democrat sponsor, Sen. Paul Lowe Jr – was introduced in North Carolina’s upper chamber in April. It calls for sports betting in or near sports facilities, stadiums, and arenas.
The bill comes amid a time when the sports betting industry is flourishing in the surrounding states, such as Virginia and Tennessee. While the North Carolina legislature would be trying to legalize online sports betting in the coming months, many North Carolinians would be visiting either of these neighboring states to place legal bets on the NFL.