NC Sports Betting Regulator Readies For Online Future As Bill Nears Passage

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NC sports betting

Online NC sports betting is teed up for legalization this week, and regulators are ready to work quickly to get sportsbook apps running.

House Speaker Tim Moore said last week that the lower chamber would concur with Senate changes to the online North Carolina sports betting legislation with votes on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Senate advanced HB 347 last week.

Gov. Roy Cooper has said he will sign the sports betting legislation. Once Cooper signs, the North Carolina Education Lottery will work to launch online sports betting as close to the Jan. 8, 2024 effective date as possible.

North Carolina Lottery prep for sports betting

While operators cannot go live before January 2024, the lottery is ready to get to work, according to a statement from the agency to LSR.

“Once the legislation is approved, the NC Education Lottery will know the full extent of what its responsibilities are under the state’s new sports betting law,” the statement reads. “This will be a new responsibility for the lottery and the lottery is evaluating how much there will be to do and how quickly it all can be done. 

“The full responsibilities won’t be known until legislation is signed into law. Then, the lottery will work as quickly as possible to meet its responsibilities in licensing operators so that sports betting can be conducted fairly and responsibly in North Carolina.”

What the lottery will oversee in North Carolina

HB 347 legalizes up to 12 mobile NC sportsbooks.

The legislation also allows for in-person sportsbooks at eight professional sports facilities in the state. Operator partnerships with sports organizations, including the NFL’s Carolina Panthers and NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, will receive preference for online licenses.

Three tribal casinos in North Carolina already have in-person sportsbooks, dating back nearly three years.

How online NC sports betting got here

In the 2021-22 legislative session, a Senate bill fell a vote short in the House. With such a close call, lawmakers trotted out a nearly identical proposal this year, but starting in the House.

Last year, several amendments including a ban on betting on in-state colleges and a lack of industry support caused support to drop off. This year, the House worked to pass the bill without any additions and eventually advanced it, 64-45.

Once in the Senate, lawmakers increased the sports betting revenue tax rate from 14% to 18%. The Senate also added online horse racing to the proposal. Senators ultimately passed the bill last week, 37-11

Avoiding killer amendments in North Carolina

When the Senate added horse racing, there was also language that potentially allowed slot machine-like historical horse racing (HHR) devices in the state. That portion of the amendment was quickly stripped out.

There have also been murmurs much of the session about expanding other gaming in North Carolina, including potentially adding to the bill following the Senate’s passage. Those rumors were cleared up with Moore’s confirmation last week the House would concur and avoid a conference committee.

Legislators also avoided banning wagers on in-state college teams, a hot-button issue in some states.