Online NC sports betting legalization is nearing a reality.
North Carolina senators voted in favor of HB 347 Thursday, 37-11. The Senate approved the measure in a 38-11 second reading vote Wednesday.
The online North Carolina sports betting bill now heads for concurrence from the House, which already passed the bill 64-45, in March. House Speaker Tim Moore told WRAL Thursday that the House will concur with the Senate’s changes early next week.
Gov. Roy Cooper is expected to sign any sports betting legislation that reaches his desk. With the governor’s signature, sports betting law would be effective Jan. 8, 2024 and regulators must set a launch within 12 months of that date.
Any NC sports betting issues in the House?
Moore’s confirmation Thursday backs up recent comments to local media from House sponsor Rep. Jason Saine that the Senate amendments should not affect the clear majority from earlier this session.
Moore was the source of rumblings this week about adding more gaming pieces to HB 347. Any additions would ruffle feathers of pure sports betting proponents and risk final passage.
There has been talk most of the session about additional gaming proposals, albeit largely separate from the sports betting legislation.
Senate changes to NC sports betting bill
The base of the bill remains the same and creates up to 12 mobile licenses with eight in-person sportsbooks at professional sports venues. HB 347 is similar to Senate legislation that fell a vote short in the House last year.
This year, it began with a 14% tax rate, which the Senate raised to 18%. The chamber also added horse racing to the package, but later stripped out controversial historical horse racing language that potentially allowed for the slot machine-like devices in the state.
Lawmakers in the Senate also prohibited operators from deducting promotional credit from sports betting revenue.
In-person sportsbooks at venues
Partnerships with the eight venues in North Carolina will give at least a few online operators preference for some of the licenses. The licenses each carry a $1 million fee for five years.
The facilities range from NFL stadiums, NBA and NHL arenas, PGA host courses and NASCAR circuits.
There are already three in-person sportsbooks open at tribal casinos in North Carolina.
What could the North Carolina market look like?
Online NC sportsbooks could take $6.8 billion in bets by year two of sports betting, according to LSR projections. That could generate $610.7 million in sports betting revenue.
The state expects to generate $10 million in the first year of operation and up to $100.6 million by year five, according to legislative fiscal analysis.
Neighboring Virginia, with about 2 million fewer people, took $4.9 billion in wagers in 2022.
Where the money goes
Legislators have doled out potential revenue from sports betting across various uses. They include:
- $2 million to gambling addiction education and treatment services.
- $1 million to North Carolina Amateur Sports for youth sports.
- $1 million to the North Carolina Heritage Advisory Council for youth sports travel grants and event attraction.
- $300,000 to 12 collegiate athletic departments in the state (Appalachian State, East Carolina, Elizabeth City State, Fayetteville State, North Carolina A&T, North Carolina Central, UNC-Asheville, UNC-Charlotte, UNC-Pembroke, UNC-Wilmington, Western Carolina, Winston-Salem State).
- 50% of remaining funds go to the general fund.
- 30% of remaining funds go to attracting major sporting events like the Super Bowl.
- 20% of remaining funds go to university athletic departments.