A bill legalizing online NC sports betting is heading to Gov. Roy Cooper‘s desk.
The North Carolina House voted Wednesday to concur with Senate changes to HB 347, 68-45. The online North Carolina sports betting legislation now heads to Cooper’s desk, where he will have 10 days to sign it. Cooper is expected to do so.
The Senate passed the bill last week, and the House concurred on a second reading Tuesday. Once signed by Cooper, online sports betting will be allowed to begin Jan. 8, 2024, and regulators will work to have sportsbooks launch as close to that date as possible.
Regulators ready in North Carolina
The North Carolina Education Lottery Commission will oversee the industry, including developing the rules and licensing process and regulating once live. Commissioners also will approve what events North Carolinians can bet on.
The commission has nine members. Commissioner will begin work on the regulatory process once Cooper signs the bill, according to a statement from the agency.
“The full responsibilities won’t be known until legislation is signed into law,” the statement reads. “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.”
Online North Carolina framework
The legislation legalizes up to 12 online sportsbooks in North Carolina. Each five-year license requires a $1 million fee.
Up to eight in-person sportsbooks can open at professional sports facilities in the state as well. The facilities are home to MLS, NASCAR, NBA, NFL, NHL, NWSL and the PGA Tour.
- Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte
- Charlotte Motor Speedway
- North Wilkesboro Speedway
- PNC Arena in Raleigh
- Quail Hollow Country Club in Charlotte
- Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro
- Spectrum Center in Charlotte
- WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary
North Carolina lawmakers legalized in-person sportsbooks at tribal casinos in 2020. There are three open in the state.
What NC sports betting can look like
According to legislative fiscal analysis, the state hopes to bring in up to $100.7 million annually in taxes by year five. Online NC sportsbooks could take up to $6.8 billion in wagers by the state’s second year of sports betting.
With a population of approximately 10.7 million, North Carolina can be compared to its northern neighbor Virginia, with a population of 8.7 million. Virginia bettors wagered $4.9 billion in 2022.
GeoComply has tracked 1.5 million geolocation checks in North Carolina since the beginning of the year. Those checks come from 155,000 accounts, according to the firm, as people tried to wager from inside North Carolina.
No sweat for online NC sports betting
A similar sports betting proposal failed during the 2021-22 North Carolina legislative session when a Senate bill fell a vote short in the House. On the heels of that effort, there was optimism heading into this year for Rep. Jason Saine‘s legislation.
Strong majorities in both chambers never wavered throughout the session. The House passed the initial version in March, 64-45, before waiting two months for the Senate to take action and make some changes to the bill.
The Senate passed the bill, 37-11. Back in the House for concurrence, the chamber added to the majority in its concurrence votes.
Senate NC sports betting changes not major
The Senate amended the sports betting revenue tax rate from 14% to 18%. The chamber also prohibited operators from deducting promotional spending from their taxable revenue.
Senators also added online horse racing to the legal betting options.
The upper chamber also clarified language allowing up to eight in-person sportsbooks at professional sports venues in the state.
Bill not without detractors
While strong support across the General Assembly never faltered, there was still plenty of opposition in the capitol.
Rep. Pricey Harrison was chief among them, asking during Tuesday’s second reading concurrence vote if there would be a debate on the Senate’s amendments. Harrison was joined by several other lawmakers from both parties in speaking against the bill, as well as religious groups, throughout the process.
On Wednesday, Harrison and several other representatives continued to stand against NC sports betting, calling the industry predatory. While she still believes it will hurt the state, Harrison applauded the raising of the tax rate and elimination of the promo deductions.