Heading into the North Carolina legislative session last month, proponents were extremely bullish on the prospects of legalizing online sports betting.
That optimism is still alive despite several weeks of inaction.
Several sources told LSR the bill could be finished in the first three weeks of the session. Going into the week of June 13, however, SB 688 has yet to move since the session began May 18.
The session runs until June 30. The NC sports betting bill passed the Senate in August 2021 and made it through its first House committee in the fall, but its time is running out.
‘Nothing to worry about’ in North Carolina
The bill’s inaction is “nothing to worry about,” one source in North Carolina told LSR this week. The source said they are waiting on new language for some technical issues in the bill, which would create 10 to 12 online sports betting licenses in North Carolina.
The legislation still needs to go through at least two more committees and pass the House floor, with potential amendments requiring Senate approval. Despite the delay, another industry source told LSR they are still optimistic about the bill’s chances.
There are also discussions ongoing about the bill’s tax rate, which sits at 8%. There are lawmakers hoping to see the tax rate increase before a vote.
North Carolina clock ticking
Proponents are still optimistic about the legislation’s chances, but there are some roadblocks in the way. With time running short in the session, lawmakers are still at odds about some issues.
“When we’re creating something brand new, like sports wagering would be, we need to get it right. And we need to get it right the first time,” House Democratic Whip Rep. Gale Adcock told Spectrum Local News. “We don’t need to pass a bill that has gaping holes like Swiss cheese and say, ‘Oh, we’ll come back and fix that later.’”
Adcock also told the publication that legislators do not want to stay around the Capitol longer than they have to after a long session last year. The only pressing issue is finishing the state’s budget.
North Carolina support for sports betting
Two tribal casinos in western North Carolina opened retail sportsbooks in 2021. The North Carolina General Assembly passed the tribal sports betting law in 2019.
Gov. Roy Cooper supports sports betting. Professional sports teams in North Carolina also back the legislation.
The state’s population, however, is fairly split, according to polling. A WRAL survey found 52% of respondents want sports betting, while a Spectrum/IPSOS poll reported a 36% support rate.