Cooper Signs Online NC Sports Betting Bill Into Law

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NC sports betting

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed online NC sports betting legislation Wednesday, opening a pathway for a launch in January 2024.

A week after the legislature gave its final approval for online North Carolina sports betting, the governor held a ceremony to ratify HB 347. Cooper indicated he would add his signature to the bill throughout the legislative process.

“The governor believes that North Carolina taxpayers should benefit from sports wagering, which is already occurring, and this legislation provides a way for that to happen within the bounds of the law,” Cooper’s office said in a statement to LSR. “Additional work needs to be done to make sure the NC Lottery Commission has what it needs to set up and regulate this industry.”

The North Carolina Education Lottery Commission will now look at the law and determine its next steps forward, including the licensing and application process for operators. The commission will work “as quickly as possible” to launch near the January 8, 2024 date allowed in the law’s language, per a statement from the agency to LSR

What is at stake for NC sports betting

North Carolina is the ninth most-populous state in the US, and has a strong professional and collegiate sports ecosystem. The state has had in-person sportsbooks at tribal casinos for almost three years, but online sports betting will open a new segment in the Tar Heel State.

The law opens the market to up to 12 sportsbooks. Each license carries a $1 million fee for five years.

Eight professional sports facilities can also partner with operators for in-person sportsbooks. The legislation guides the lottery to consider in-person plans in online applications.

What to expect for North Carolina sportsbooks

LSR projections suggest North Carolina bettors could wager $6.8 billion by year two. The legislative fiscal analysis predicts the state could bring in up to $100.7 million annually by year five with the state’s 18% tax rate on sports betting revenue.

Sportsbooks cannot deduct promotional expenses from their taxable revenue.

At 10.7 million residents, North Carolina is similar in size to Michigan, as well as neighboring Virginia. In 2022, those states were in their second year with online sports betting.

Path to online NC sports betting

A nearly identical sports betting proposal failed by one vote during the 2021-2022 session. That kept proponents optimistic heading into the session this spring.

The House passed Rep. Jason Saine’s bill quickly without amendments in March, 64-45. The Senate took up the bill in May, adding online horse racing and raising the tax rate from 14%.

The Senate sent the legislation back to the House with a 37-11 vote. The House concurred with the changes last week, 68-45.