A bill to legalize mobile NC sports betting is moving forward again and appears to have potential.
First introduced in April, Senate Bill 688, which would legalizes mobile sports betting in North Carolina, reemerged this week after going on the backburner earlier this year. The Senate Finance Committee advanced the bill Wednesday afternoon, pushing it to the Judiciary Committee.
“Some bills we just know are going to require conversations within our caucus and that’s one of the bills we flagged early,” bill sponsor Sen. Jim Perry told LSR this week. “We wanted to spend some time in conversation making sure we hear our members and understand where our caucus is as a whole.
“We’ve picked a lot of the low-hanging fruit, now the things that take a little time and more conversation, we talk internally, if there’s enough support to move forward, still no guarantee something passes, but enough people feel like it’s reasonable to take it through the committee.”
There is no pressing deadline to pass the bill, which can last through next year, Perry said. The bill is moving, however, and could see its next committee as early as Monday.
‘Reasonable opportunity to pass’
While he said there is no guarantee it passes, Perry is also the whip and counts the Senate’s votes.
He said there are Senate members who “have reasonable concerns and reasonable objections,” but he does not believe many votes will change.
“It’s my job to count the votes,” Perry said. “I feel it has a reasonable opportunity to pass the Senate and head over to the House and I’ve had some conversations over there. Overall people understand it’s not a question of if we will have sports betting. We have sports betting in North Carolina.”
Sports betting already happening in NC
Not a sports bettor himself, Perry said he does not want to keep his head in the sand on the issue.
“We have it in the western part of the state at the casinos,” Perry said, noting its legality at two tribal-owned casinos. “We also have it taking place in every community, so the question isn’t are we bringing sports betting to North Carolina? It’s, are we going to put some reasonable regulation and structure to what’s going on today?”
He said he does not want to object to the reasonable concerns of his fellow Senators, he just wants to make the state revenue on something already occurring.
“Because it exists today, we’re not talking about armageddon or changing the behavior of 10 million North Carolinians, that’s a little overblown,” Perry said.
NC sports betting bill likely to see changes
Perry is not overly protective of the bill as it heads through the committees. He said the job of committees is to make bills better by addition and subtraction.
“I’m pretty open-minded,” Perry said. “There has been a stakeholder working on the legislation for years now, so out of respect, when someone proposes changes that could impact what I’m going to say are the core tenants, I will take it to that group before I accept changes.”
He did tell WRAL he views the bill as a placeholder.
Initial sports betting rules
The bill creates at least 10 online NC sports betting licenses, but no more than 12. The state would levy an 8% tax on sports betting revenue.
Licensing fees would be:
- $500,000 for a five-year license
- $100,000 for renewals
Sports facilities with a capacity of more than 17,000 could establish areas of betting through mobile devices and computer terminals. The venues for the NHL‘s Carolina Hurricanes, NBA‘s Charlotte Hornets and NFL‘s Carolina Panthers meet the criteria.
What mobile betting could bring
Perry and Sen. Paul Lowe introduced the bipartisan bill in April with the goal of creating revenue by regulating an illegal activity already taking place. Perry believes sports betting could bring North Carolina up to $60 million in tax revenue during the first full year of operation.
Perry largely represents rural areas and would like tax revenue from sports betting to help build rural schools. He views a tax on NC sports betting as voluntary and looks at it more favorably than raising property taxes.
Legal sports betting in North Carolina
Legislation to allow the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to offer retail sports betting passed in 2019. However, the first sportsbook did not open until March 2021.
The tribe operates two Harrah‘s-branded casinos and partnered with William Hill to open the sportsbooks.
Caesars, which completed a $3.7 billion acquisition of William Hill in April, rebranded a majority of William Hill sportsbooks this week, including at the North Carolina casinos.