A bill to expand North Carolina sports betting moved past the Senate Thursday.
Senators passed SB 688, 26-19. Now the bill, which legalizes North Carlina online sports betting, moves to the House. There was no discussion during Thursday’s vote.
Sen. Jim Perry and Sen. Paul Lowe introduced the bill in April to tax an activity many North Carolinians already participate in.
“Prohibition doesn’t work,” Perry said during the second reading Wednesday. “We know the activity takes place today whether we like it or not. We can’t ignore that fact. It’s just not something regulated and taxed by the state.”
Uphill battle for mobile NC sports betting
The bill spent several months waiting for action before quickly moving through several committees this month. Perry said the delay was because the Senate needed to take care of less controversial issues beforehand.
The vote in the Senate was far from unanimous and according to the Winston-Salem Journal, the House could be even more split on the issue. The bill does last through next year.
“There is a healthy bipartisan group of House members who are opposed to gambling, including me,” Rep. Pricey Harrison told the Journal. “I don’t see how the bill moves through the House this year. It’s a big change for North Carolina, and it needs thorough vetting and deliberation.”
Leaders from the Christian Action League of North Carolina and North Carolina Family Policy Council were constant voices of opposition during Senate committee meetings.
However, a recent Eastern Carolina University poll found 54% of the state’s residents favor the legalization of sports betting. Gov. Roy Cooper also publicly supported the bill this month.
North Carolina mobile sports betting bill
The bill authorizes 10 to 12 mobile sports betting licenses in the state, each with a $500,000 initial five-year license fee. The bill carries an effective date of Jan. 1, 2022.
North Carolina will levy an 8% tax on sports betting revenue.
Professional sports facilities could also set up areas for sports betting on mobile and kiosk devices. That includes golf courses with a track record of professional tournaments and the homes for the:
- Charlotte Hornets
- Carolina Panthers
- Carolina Hurricanes
Perry and Lowe expect the market to generate between $25 million and $50 million in tax revenue once the market matures. Half of the sports betting revenue would go to the state’s Major Events, Games and Attractions Fund, while Perry wants much of the rest to help rural education.
Expanding North Carolina sports betting
North Carolinians can already bet at two tribal-owned Harrah‘s branded casinos in the state.
Legislation to allow the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians passed in 2019. The tribe partnered with William Hill to open retail sportsbooks at the casinos, which opened in March 2021.
Caesars rebranded those sportsbooks as part of its new branding campaign this month.