The North Carolina House of Representatives approved a mobile sports wagering bill, 66-45, in the bill’s second reading on Tuesday, a move that keeps the bill on the legislative calendar and likely paves the way for the legalization of broader sports betting in the state.
A final House vote is still needed but the process in the House to push NC sports betting apps through appears to be a formality after Tuesday’s decisive vote.
Eight Amendments All Defeated
The bill faced eight amendments on Tuesday, from eliminating college sports from the list of events on which bettors could wager to raising the tax rate to 51% on online sportsbooks, to increasing fines for advertising violations by gambling operators to seven figures. All the amendments were defeated resoundingly, most by margins of more than 3-to-1.
Familiar arguments were made in support of the bill, including that state residents are already wagering with illegal offshore operators and that a legal, regulated, and taxed sports gambling industry for North Carolina sports betting is a far better alternative.
Also, neighboring states Virginia and Tennessee already have online sports gambling and some North Carolina residents are traveling to those states to place their wagers.
North Carolina expects online sports gambling to add tens of millions of dollars to tax collections for various purposes, and that could be potentially doubled with the addition of North Carolina online casinos, which could be the next form of gambling to follow if online sports betting passes.
Current Bill’s Bipartisan Backing
The current mobile sports betting bill, HB 347, has bipartisan support. Its four major sponsors are split – two Republicans and two Democrats – and more than 50 members of the House endorsed the legislation.
The online sports betting bill, which passed relatively easily through four House committees before the second read, varies substantially from the 2022 effort that failed by a slim margin in the House last summer. At the time, a sports wagering bill had already been passed in the state Senate.
The former bill was retooled after legislative proponents of sports betting considered recommendations from colleagues.
Some details of the current bill are that 10 to 12 mobile licenses would be issued, and wagering would be limited to customers 21 and older.
Among the changes from the failed 2022 sports betting proposal is that the tax rate on gambling operators is higher, 14%, compared to the 8% tax rate in the previous version.
An interactive sports wagering license fee would be $1 million and would be good for five years.
How Money Would Be Distributed
In addition, the distribution of tax money includes more purposes than earlier versions.
Some of those are:
- Addressing problem gambling would get $2 million.
- An appropriation of $300,000 each would go to 10 state colleges: Elizabeth City State, Fayetteville State, North Carolina A&T, North Carolina Central, University of North Carolina at Asheville, UNC Greensboro, UNC Pembroke, UNC Wilmington, Western Carolina and Winston-Salem State.
- Funds of $1 million would go to the North Carolina Outdoor Heritage Advisory Council to be distributed as grants.
The remaining tax money would be distributed annually as follows: 20% to the colleges and universities listed above, distributed equally to support athletic programs; 30% to the North Carolina Major Events, Games, and Attractions Fund (established to help attract special sports and entertainment events, such as golf tournaments and auto races); and 50% to the General Fund.
North Carolina does have retail gambling in three Native American land-based casinos, two in the western part of the state and one at Kings Mountain, just west of Charlotte.
If the state's proposal makes it to the finish line, you can expect major operators to offer North Carolina sportsbook promo codes and for us to have the best of the bunch at BetCarolina.