North Carolina Online Sports Betting in Trouble After House Fails to Advance Key Bill

North Carolina Online Sports Betting in Trouble After House Fails to Advance Key Bill
Fact Checked by Pat McLoone

After a five-hour session, the House of Representatives failed to advance a key North Carolina sports betting bill Wednesday night, likely ending hope that online sports betting will be approved this year.

SB 688, which was approved by the Senate last year, failed on second reading, 52-49. A motion to send it back to the Rules Committee by House Majority Leader John Bell also was denied.

SB 688 included up to 12 mobile sports operators, an 8% tax rate and a $1 million license fee with a $100,000 renewal fee. 
The state’s other sports betting bill, SB 38, was moved to a third reading in a 51-50 vote earlier in the afternoon, but its future is unclear without the companion bill. The bill has attachments that would up the tax rate to 14% and the renewal fee to $1 million.

The House session returns Thursday at 9 a.m. 
SB 38 was amended Wednesday night to ban college sports betting. The state is regarded as a hotbed of college sports. Not allowing any college betting, including on ACC basketball or SEC football, could cost the state millions in taxes.

Heading into the legislative session, Rep. Jason Saine said he thought online sports betting had good momentum in the legislature. It was brought to a grinding halt by the House Wednesday night.

Retail sports betting is legal at two tribal casinos in the western part of the state.

Outlook Was Better Earlier in Day

The bills cleared two key committees earlier in the day before heading to the full House for debate. 
SB 688 and SB 38 picked up Yes votes in the House Finance Committee in the morning and the House Rules Committee in the afternoon before the debate on SB 38 began in the House. The legislative session ends June 30. 
SB 38 is a trailer bill that contains key amendments to SB 688, which passed through the Senate last year. SB 38 must go to the Senate for a concurrence vote on the amendments. 

Earlier, in a 30-minute meeting Wednesday morning, SB 38 was heard first and had two amendments added, passed and attached to the bill by the Finance Committee: the addition of eSports betting and an additional $5,000 for each county with additional funding to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) athletic programs in the state, along with UNC-Asheville and UNC-Pembroke.

The 11 HBCU schools in the state are:

  • Barber-Scotia College (Concord)
  • Bennett College (Greensboro)
  • Elizabeth City State
  • Fayetteville State
  • Johnson C. Smith (Charlotte)
  • Livingstone College (Salisbury)
  • North Carolina AT&T (Greensboro)
  • North Carolina Central (Durham)
  • Shaw University (Raleigh)
  • St. Augustine’s College (Raleigh)
  • Winston-Salem State.

SB 38 passed by a vote of 14-2.

SB 688, the original state Senate-approved online sports betting bill from last year, was up next and passed by a 13-3 vote. 

Judiciary Committee Vote Got Ball Rolling

On Tuesday, both bills were approved and moved out of the House Judiciary Committee by a 6-3 vote with one member abstaining on both bills.

Eight days are left for the current legislative session, which ends June 30.

Retail sports betting is legal at two tribal casinos in western North Carolina. These two bills, if approved and signed into law, would permit statewide mobile sports betting.

The North Carolina State Lottery Commission would be charged with regulating online sports wagering.

The legislative clock is ticking and the late votes have put a North Carolina sports betting bill in jeopardy.



Lou Monaco

Lou Monaco had been East Coast Scene columnist for Gaming Today in Las Vegas since June 2019, covering the East Coast sportsbook scene with emphasis on NJ and PA. He also currently is a part-time writer for the high school sports department for NJ Advanced Media ( in Iselin, NJ. Lou has over 30 years sports experience with previous stints at ESPN SportsTicker, Daily Racing Form and Oddschecker.

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