Home Gambling Industry North Carolina lawmakers continue looking for path for legal sports betting

North Carolina lawmakers continue looking for path for legal sports betting

04 Oct 2021
4 min. read


Senate legislation to regulate North Carolina sports gambling was reintroduced in the House by a committee that voted to approve the measure. The support for the measure is not strictly party-line.

The bill aims to regulate and tax online betting, which supporters claim is already happening within North Carolina's borders. Representative Jon Hardister, a Guilford County Republican who helped shepherd the Senate measure through the House Commerce Committee in a 12-4 vote, asserted, "This is something that we can't ignore. It's already here. We need to establish the framework [and] we need to derive the revenue."

The Senate approved the measure in August with bipartisan support. However, it must be passed through three more House committees before it can reach the House floor.

Representative Jason Saine from Lincoln County admitted that there is still work to be done and added that there was no plan to rush the measure through the legislative session. The bill could still be considered for consideration next year if it is blocked.

The legislation directs the North Carolina Education Lottery Commission to issue between 10-12 interactive sports wagering operator licenses and supplier licenses. It could be wagered on college, professional, and some amateur sports. Licensees could create online betting apps and an in-person betting location near or within a professional sporting arena.

The state would receive 8% of the operator's adjusted gross revenue. The state would receive half of the tax proceeds to fund a special fund that attracts sporting events and attractions. An analysis of the previous bill's legislative text estimated that the total annual revenue could be $24 million. Supporters of the bill suggested that the 8% tax could go higher.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, sports betting is offered in at least 20 states (including Tennessee and Virginia) and the District of Columbia. After a 2018 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, interest in sports betting exploded. Thanks to the 2019 legislation, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians launched on-site betting operations at its two casinos in western North Carolina.

Thursday's measure was opposed by a group of Christian conservatives as well as at least one progressive Democrat. They claimed it would lead to more gambling addictions, disproportionately hurt the poor, and cause more social ills.

"However you characterize this, it is a wild expansion of gambling in North Carolina," said Representative Deb Butler, a New Hanover County Democrat. She also fails to acknowledge that sports betting is currently alive across the state, even if it is taking place underground. the prevalence of sports gambling in the state. "I think that it is clear to me that it is going to affect those who can arguably least afford it the most," she added.

Ches McDowell is a lobbyist for MLB, the NBA and the PGA Tour. He also pointed out that the bill would provide more money to help with problem gambling. He said that gambling regulation will also help to preserve the integrity and sports results, which could be challenged when large offshore bets raise concerns.

McDowell stated that North Carolina is losing out to other states when it comes to attracting new events and franchises. This is because the state lacks in-state gambling that could benefit leagues. He said that they have a better sports market because sports betting is an additional revenue stream.

Frank Iler, Republican Representative from Brunswick County, was a member of the committee and said that he was open to letting the measure move but not committed to supporting it in floor votes.

Image source: Getty Images

04 Oct 2021
4 min. read