A new sports betting bill filed this week may expand options for North Carolina bettors, who could place online bets as soon as this October. Sen. Jim Perry and Paul Lowe filed Wednesday a bipartisan bill SB 688, which appears to have considerable support and time to get to the finishing line at the end of June. If passed, the North Carolina State Lottery Commission would be the regulator and the online sports betting proceeds would help support education.

While many other states have already regulated their sports betting industry since the annulment of PASPA, and many others are undergoing the process, Perry said he wants to create revenue from an illegal activity already taking place in the Old North State. According to a 2019 study conducted on sports betting, the industry would do great in North Carolina.

Is North Carolina Sports Betting Currently Available?

Currently, two tribal casinos are offering sports betting in North Carolina. The tribal casinos were allowed to offer retail sports betting after an updated gaming compact was finalized last December. The tribe associated with the UK-based William Hill, now owned by Caesars Entertainment, to open in-person sportsbooks at its two Harrah’s-branded casinos in the Old North State in March 2021. However, as of now, online sports betting is not legal in North Carolina.

SB 688 would expand the market beyond the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ two Harrah’s Casino venues. Besides, under SB 688, the Cherokees may apply for an interactive license. However, the latest bill does not include statewide retail sports betting and seeks online betting by authorizing and regulating sports betting in the Old North State beyond these two casinos.

What Changes SB 688 Will Bring?

If SB 688 were passed, state bettors would be able to place legal online wagers on professional and collegiate sports, as well as eSports and amateur Olympic-style events from as early as October 2021.

The bill would authorize online sports betting through at least 10 but not more than 12 online sports betting licenses approved and managed by North Carolina Education Lottery Commission. On top of online platforms, a “sports facility” owner may establish a “place of public accommodation” to allow access to sports betting platforms via mobile or computer devices. Sports facilities could be those places or arenas that host professional sports with a capacity of more than 17,000. The facilities for the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, NFL’s Carolina Panthers, and NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes meet those criteria.

According to the bill, operators are required to submit a $500,000 application fee to procure a license, renewable with a $100,000 fee. If denied, licensing fee will be refundable. The bill also allows bettors to place bets using cryptocurrency, among traditional forms of payments. The Commission would levy an 8% tax on sports betting revenue. Perry and Lowe cited estimates that North Carolina could draw nearly $50 million annually through sports betting. As per the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, around 30% of lottery revenue goes to education, including school construction and scholarships for college and university students. In addition to supporting education, half of the sports betting proceeds would promote job growth and economic development.

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