A mobile North Carolina sports betting bill still has life.
The NC House Commerce Committee passed SB 688, 12–4, Thursday morning. The NC sports betting bill now moves on to the House Judiciary Committee.
Rep. Jason Saine, who sponsored a House sports betting bill, is pegged to guide the Senate bill through the chamber. At the beginning of the fall session, Saine was a key figure in negotiating the state budget, which kept NC sports betting on the backburner.
“Figured since we’re here, we’d start on some bills, let it have a chance to marinate a little bit,” Saine told the Commerce Committee. “We realize it’s an issue with a lot of opinions and some people have strong opinions either way.”
NC sports betting bill stuck behind important issues
The NC Senate passed SB 688 in August. As the bill moved to the House, however, it ran into a logjam of issues that brought the legislature back for the fall session.
Even now, the House is focused on redistricting. If the chamber cannot push it through prior to wrapping up redistricting, it will more than likely be picked back up next year.
“This issue will continue to come back to us, whether this bill rises or fall,” Saine said. “This issue will be out there in the next session and the next session.”
As with most sports betting bills, there were staunch anti-gambling legislators in opposition during the committee meeting.
Legalizing mobile NC sports betting
North Carolinians already can bet at retail sportsbooks in tribal casinos in the state. There is a Caesars Sportsbook at two Harrah’s casinos owned by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
Senators Jim Perry and Paul Lowe introduced the bill in April. Senate Bill 688 creates 10 to 12 mobile sports betting licenses and an 8% tax on sports betting revenue.
The bill also allows professional sports organizations in the state to set up lounges for betting, including the venues for:
- NFL’s Carolina Panthers
- NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes
- NBA’s Charlotte Hornets
- Charlotte Motor Speedway
North Carolinians already betting on sports
Saine used an example of a neighbor to tell the committee residents in the state already bet online.
He said 2 million North Carolinians are illegally betting.
“Sports wagering, most don’t know whether it’s legal or not,” he said. “Time to make North Carolina sports betting safe.”