New North Carolina Sports Betting Bill Would Open Online Market

Posted on April 8, 2021

A new sports betting bill hit the North Carolina State Capitol this week.

Senators Jim Perry and Paul Lowe filed SB 688 Wednesday. The bipartisan bill authorizes and enacts NC sports betting.

The new bill would expand the market beyond two tribal casinos in North Carolina into an online market.

As with many state legislators looking to open up their states to sports wagering, Perry told the Raleigh News & Observer he wants to create revenue from an illegal activity already happening in the state.

“We believe every sheriff knows who the bookies are in their county,” he said. “We see this going on and we see folks avoiding income taxes on money from illegal gambling.”

How does bill expand North Carolina sports betting?

As introduced, the bill would authorize online NC sports betting authorized by the NC Education Lottery Commission. At least 10 online sports wagering licenses would be available, but no more than 12.

Bettors could bet on authorized professional and collegiate sports, as well as esports and amateur Olympic-style events. Youth sports would be off-limits.

On top of mobile platforms, an owner of a “sports facility” may set up a “place of public accomodation” to allow access sports wagering platforms through mobile devices or computer terminals. Sports facilities are defined as a facility that hosts professional sports with a capacity of more than 17,000.

The arenas for the NHL‘s Carolina Hurricanes, NBA‘s Charlotte Hornets and NFL‘s Carolina Panthers meet those criteria.

Estimated sports betting figures in North Carolina

Perry and Lowe cited estimates North Carolina could bring in $50 million a year through sports betting.

The commission would collect an 8% tax on sports betting revenue. The commission’s profits support education, but half of the sports betting tax revenue would promote job growth and economic development.

North Carolina licensing fees would be:

  • $500,000 for intial five-year license.
  • $100,000 for renewals.

First North Carolina sportsbooks opened last month

In 2019, sports betting legislation passed to allow the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to open sportsbooks in their casinos.

The tribe partnered with William Hill to open retail sportsbooks at its two Harrah’s-branded casinos in the state in March 2021.

Under the current law, online sports betting is not legal. The Eastern Band of Cherokees could apply for an interactive license under the bill.

North Carolina neighbors already in the game

Two of North Carolina’s neighbors, Tennessee and Virginia, have launched sports betting.

Tennessee launched its online-only market in November, with bettors placing nearly $700 million in bets. Operators have generated $61.9 million in revenue with the state collecting $12.3 million.

Virginia launched in late January and has recorded $324.7 million in handle, $15.8 million in operator revenue and $340,304 in state taxes.

North Carolina has a population slightly larger than Virginia, and is more in line with Michigan. In February 2021, its first full month in with online sports betting, Michigan recorded $325.6 million in handle.

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Pat Evans

Pat Evans is a Las Vegas-based reporter covering sports business. Evans previously worked at Front Office Sports and the Grand Rapids Business Journal. He has authored two books: Grand Rapids Beer and Nevada Beer.

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