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North Carolina is throwing their hat in the ring for the honor of being the first state to pass legislation authorizing sports betting in 2019.
The state Senate passed an NC sports betting bill Tuesday that would permit wagering on sports and horse racing at tribal casinos.
Bill sponsor Sen. Jim Davis told Legal Sports Report at the beginning of March that he expected S 154 to easily pass through the Senate within the month. It turns out he wasn’t far off, with the NC sports betting bill passing less than six weeks later by a vote of 42-7.
At a page in a half, this might be the shortest legal sports betting bill to pass anywhere.
The bill simply adds sports wagering to the Class III games that the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians can offer. The tribe operates two casinos: Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel.
Davis’ district includes the Cherokee reservation, and he introduced the bill at the tribe’s request. In March, he told LSR:
“The Eastern Band are wanting to get into sports wagering, and wagering is legal now after the Supreme Court decision of May of last year overturning PASPA. It’s a legal enterprise and they want to expand to include wagering in my district, so I consented to file the bill and don’t expect it to have any problems getting passed.”
Davis told the Raleigh News & Observer that he expected sports betting to add $14 million in gaming revenue to the tribe, which would bring about $1 million to the state.
While the bill doesn’t mention mobile or online wagering, Davis previously told LSR that the tribe is only interested in having sports betting in-person at its casinos. He even added that the Cherokee “probably have no interest in expanding” to mobile in the future.
The bill also specifies that wagers would be allowed on the outcome of professional and collegiate sporting events, seeming to eliminate the possibility of in-game betting.
Davis predicted back in March that the House would be the more challenging chamber for the bill to get through, but that it would do so.
The House has companion legislation, H 302, which hasn’t gone anywhere but has garnered 24 sponsors, including primary sponsor Rep. Howard Hunter. Another sponsor, Rep. Kevin Corbin, comes from the district that includes the Cherokee reservation and wields influence as Deputy Majority Whip.
Gov. Roy Cooper is a Democrat while the legislature is controlled by Republicans, which could be an issue in getting his signature if the bill hits his desk. However, the bipartisan support received in the Senate bodes well for the bill’s prospects.
The North Carolina General Assembly is expected to meet until the end of June.