North Carolina Sports Betting Bill Headed to Senate After Passing Committee Stage

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A bill that aims to legalize mobile and retail sports betting in North Carolina passed two more hurdles this week.

House Bill 347 was approved by the state House of Representatives in late March by a 66 to 45 vote.

This Tuesday, the State Senate Finance Committee and State Senate Rules and Operations Committee approved the bill, with a few changes.

That means a full Senate vote is next. After that, it will need to return to the House for one more seal of approval before hitting Governor Roy Cooper’s desk for signoff.

Governor Cooper has previously said he would agree to any such bill if it made it through the legislature.

Related: Our expert and comprehensive guide to gambling laws in North Carolina

Retail and Mobile

Bill 347 aims to legalize mobile sports wagering and physical sportsbooks in certain locations across North Carolina. The North Carolina Lottery Commission would be responsible for handing out 12 prospective licenses in the state.

The state’s three tribal gaming casinos will be unaffected by the new legislation.

Retail sports books look likely to be kept to existing sports betting venues, such as Charlotte Motor Speedway, which hosts NASCAR events, or the Spectrum Center, which is the home to the NBA’S Charlotte Hornets.

Thoughtful Process

The proposed bill saw a few changes imposed by the Senate before it passed. Lawmakers agreed to increase the proposed tax on sports betting revenues to 18% from 14%.

They also decided to allow cash wagers at in-person sports books, and to drop a requirement that retail sports books at stadiums close during college games.

State Representative Jason Saine (R-Lincoln) was one of the key sponsors of the bill. He was in good spirits after the Senate committee’s decision.

“The Senate has had a thoughtful process and have been good partners in seeing this legislation through,” he said. “I think their good-faith efforts are greatly appreciated by sponsors and supporters of the bill in the House.”

$90 Million Market

Projections carried out by state officials suggest that a legal sports betting market in North Carolina could bring in $509 million within five years.

Statisticians analyzed sports betting data from legal state markets to compare and build the parameters for their model.

Given the new 18% tax rate, that could work out to $92 million a year when the market matures. Some of those funds will be earmarked for sports initiatives and problem gambling programs. But it still represents a good chunk of change for the state’s coffers. There’s also income taxes from new jobs created and licensing fees.

Each of the 12 licensees will pay $1 million to apply, and then a further $1 million every five years.

Despite a similar sports betting bill failing in last year’s Senate session, the odds look a lot better for North Carolinian sports betting fans this year.

“The issue is, will North Carolina try to be on the cutting edge for the technology jobs and other employment that it [legal sports betting] will create,” Gov. Cooper said in 2022. “Or are we just going to let it happen all around us? I think it’s time for us to step up and do it.”

If sports betting is legalized, the bill says state regulators have 12 months from that point to get everything ready for launch.

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