After sitting on ice since last fall, a North Carolina mobile sports betting bill could start moving again this week with some new provisions.
The NC sports betting bill, SB 688, passed the Senate last year and started this session in the House Judiciary Committee. Despite supporters suggesting the legislation might move within the first three weeks of the session, it has sat motionless since May 18.
Proponents expect the bill to make a final sprint during the last few days of the session, which ends June 30. The legislation likely will gain some changes, including an increased tax rate.
“The sports betting bill is caught up in a larger negotiation between the House and Senate leadership,” Sen. Michael Garrett told Fox 8 WGHP. “I do think it has a strong chance of passing before the short session ends.”
New North Carolina sports betting proposal
The original proposal creates 10 to 12 mobile sports betting licenses in North Carolina. The state would levy an 8% tax on sports betting revenue.
Representatives will file a new proposal this week that raises the bill’s tax rate to 14%, according to a report from Axios Raleigh last week. The new trailer bill also increases the sports betting license fee from $500,000 to $1 million.
“As of right now, I’m optimistic that we have the votes to pass it,” House Majority Whip Rep. Jon Hardister told Axios. “Most of the feedback I’ve gotten from my caucus has been positive.”
Heading into the spring session, lobbyist Ches McDowell told LSR that representatives likely would file a separate bill to increase the tax rate. The strategy helps streamline the legislation’s path, as SB 688 would not have to return to the Senate following House passage.
Quick work needed in North Carolina
Last week, McDowell told LSR he expects the legislation to be in the House Judiciary Committee this week and “should keep moving after that.” The committee will meet Tuesday evening after the House floor session.
Some industry sources were less optimistic when the House had yet to schedule the committee meeting as of Monday morning.
“If they have committee, I think they’ll take it all the way and get it done,” the source said Monday. “If they don’t, I think they may be out of time.”
North Carolina sports betting status
North Carolina already allows for retail sports betting at two Caesars Sportsbooks in two tribal-owned Harrah’s casinos in western North Carolina.
Gov. Roy Cooper has expressed support for the legislation in the past and would likely sign legislation that makes it to his desk. North Carolina professional sports teams also lobbied in support of the bill, including former Charlotte Hornets Muggsy Bogues and Dell Curry.
North Carolina residents remain split on the issue, according to polls. A Spectrum News/IPSOS poll found that just 36% of registered voters support sports betting, while a survey from WRAL News shows 52% of respondents want legal online sports betting.