With less than 10 days remaining before the legislative session ends, the North Carolina House Judiciary Committee advanced two North Carolina sports betting bills Tuesday.
Both bills — SB 688 (passed by the Senate last year) and a new trailing SB 38 (which, among other things, increased the tax rate to 14%) — were approved and moved out of committee by a 6-3 vote with one member abstaining on both bills.
The legislative session ends June 30.
Retail sports betting is legal at two tribal casinos in western North Carolina. The bills approved Tuesday would permit statewide mobile sports betting.
What’s in Bill 38?
In Tuesday’s 55-minute meeting, SB 38 was heard first with attached amendments:
- Would allow pari-mutuel betting.
- License fees for sports wagering providers would be $1 million to apply and $1 million to renew. Renewal fees in the previous sports betting bills were $100,000.
- Sports betting operators will be allowed to deduct bonuses and promotional credits.
- Would create a special events fund to attract and pay for major sporting events through the state’s Department of Commerce.
- Seating capacities for facilities allowed to have sports betting have been set: motor sports facilities must have seating of 17,000 minimum and a professional golf event or golf facility would have capacity for at least 50,000 spectators.
- Gambling addiction funds would go from $1 million to $2 million.
- Removal of amateur sports was approved. Wagers only will be taken on professional and collegiate sports.
The original state Senate-approved online sports betting bill from last year — SB 688 — was next. However, no amendments were heard by the Committee and the bill was also passed by the same 6-3-1 vote.
That SB 688, when passed by the Senate last year, included up to 12 mobile sports operators, an 8% tax rate and a $1 million license fee with a $100,000 renewal fee.
What Needs to Happen Next
Passage of both bills is an important step forward as the June 30 deadline approaches. Both bills have now advanced to the Finance Committee on Wednesday at 1 p.m.
If all goes according to plan, the bill also will go to the Rules Committee and a House Floor vote is possible by the end of the week. From there, SB 38 will need a Senate concurrence, then finally the signature of the Gov. Roy Cooper.
Rep. Jason Saine chaired Tuesday’s meeting with the current chair, Ted Davis, out with COVID. He appeared on video.
The North Carolina State Lottery Commission would be charged with regulating online sports wagering.
North Carolina would be a key state in moving sports betting through other southern states.
It is unlikely online sports wagering will begin before 2023, although advocates are trying to be optimistic about launching during the 2022 football season. SB 38 included this provision: "Establishes a prospective effective date of January 1, 2023, applicable to the authorization for sports wagering and the establishment of new crimes."