North Carolina Sports Betting Closer, Market Could Still Extend

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North Carolina is on the brink of a significant expansion in its gambling landscape, as the North Carolina Lottery Commission (NCLC) has started work on a legal sports betting framework.

The state’s new betting market could go live as early as January 8, 2024. That’s if regulators can move fast enough to hit the launch targets, which were included in the sports betting legalization bill signed on June 14 by Governor Roy Cooper.

The new law mandates the NCLC to supervise North Carolina’s online sports betting, state-wide retail sports betting off Indian lands, and pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing. It began those duties on Friday July 14, in accordance with the schedule. It also launched a web page detailing its new work.

“The Commission is working to meet those obligations so that sports betting and horse racing wagering can begin as soon as practicable and so that these activities will be conducted responsibly,” it said.

Meanwhile, North Carolina’s pro gambling politicians are busy working on further developments. Senate Leader Phil Berger (R) said he thinks an expansion of gambling options before the end of the legislative session is eminently possible, as debates continue in the state Senate in Raleigh (pictured).

“I’d say better than 50-50,” Berger told Associated Press.

The Legislative Journey and Future Prospects

The sports betting bill, HB 347, was signed into law in a ceremony at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte. It allows online and retail betting in the state on professional, college, amateur, esports, and other events.

It also permits pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing. The bill initially cleared the House in March by a 64-45 vote, and allows up to 12 online operators in North Carolina and 8 retail betting sites.

The North Carolina Department of Revenue will collect an 18% tax on gross wagering revenues of sports betting, and one percent of the total pari-mutuel wagers placed on horse racing.

The law also allocates funds raised by sports betting to various state departments.

This includes $1 million annually to North Carolina Amateur Sports to expand opportunities in youth sports, up to $300,000 annually to collegiate athletic departments at 13 state universities, and $1 million annually to the N.C. Outdoor Heritage Advisory Council for grants to help cover the cost of travel to in-state or out-of-state sporting events.

The North Carolina Problem Gambling Program provides effective problem gambling prevention, education, outreach, and treatment and recovery services. The new law allocates an additional $2 million a year to expand the program, although free confidential help is already available 24/7.

Continued Discussions

As the Lottery Commission begins its work on a launching one form of gambling, the North Carolina General Assembly continues to discuss whether they should allow another. It is looking at legalizing casinos on nontribal lands, authorize and regulate video gambling machines at other venues, or both.

“Gaming is already taking place in North Carolina, and gaming is taking place on the border of North Carolina that is pulling money out of North Carolina,” Berger said.

He was likely referring to Caesars Entertainment’s temporary venue in Danville, Virginia, which is just past North Carolina’s northern border. The temporary site has already reported revenues of $12 million in just two weeks after launching, and will become a full $650 million casino resort next year.

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