North Carolina stakeholders shared optimism prior to the start of the 2022 legislative session about the possible passage of a sports betting bill. That bill has yet to be discussed in the House, however, despite the legislative session beginning a couple weeks ago.
The short legislative session concludes on June 30, meaning a few weeks remain for the House to approve the bill. It’s expected the bill would go through three House committees before reaching the House floor, and it’s first expected to be addressed by the House Judiciary Committee.
The North Carolina House Judiciary Standing Committee held a meeting this morning. They did not however, discuss the online sports betting bill, that still needs its approval before a floor vote.
There are 28 calendar days remaining in the session.
— Sam McQuillan (@sam_mcquill) June 2, 2022
SB 688, which passed through the Senate in 2021, would legalize mobile sports wagering in the state. Currently, retail sports betting is available at a pair of tribal-owned casinos, but if SB 688 becomes law, significantly more legal betting options would become available in the state.
Language in the bill would award 10-12 sports betting licenses, and major national sportsbook operators like BetMGM, DraftKings, and FanDuel would likely enter the market. The tax rate on the bill is 8% of adjusted gross revenue, although that number could be increased either by a House committee vote or potentially through additional legislation following the passage of SB 688.
Legal mobile betting by September?
A recent report by WRAL quoted Rep. Jason Saine offering an extremely optimistic timeline for a launch of mobile sports wagering. Saine, who has taken a leading role trying to help the legislation through the House, suggested bettors could place legal mobile bets early in the NFL season.
“It’s conceivable, if not by the first of football season, certainly by mid-season,” Saine said. “There might be a couple games already played, but I do think everyone who is involved in it has known something might be coming. It’s not a shock to anyone.”
QUOTE TO NOTE: State Representative on North Carolina's sports betting legalization efforts. pic.twitter.com/QZwmh9Pq4j
— Wagers (@WagersUSA) May 23, 2022
Under the bill, the North Carolina Lottery Commission would regulate sports wagering. While a lottery spokesperson didn’t want to offer Sports Handle an official comment this week since no law has been enacted, they suggested looking at other states as a guide for how North Carolina’s process could unfold.
Based upon the timelines from other states, Saine’s suggested timeline appears highly optimistic. It typically takes states five to six months to go from legalization to allowing mobile operators to launch. State regulators often need a couple of months to generate and receive public comment on rules before taking another couple of months to award licenses to operators.
Virginia, for example, legalized sports wagering in April 2020, but mobile sportsbooks didn’t launch in the Commonwealth until nine months later. The same time span occurred when New York authorized mobile sports betting in April 2021 and mobile sportsbooks launched in January 2022.
Arizona moved at a quicker pace in 2021. The state legalized sports wagering in mid-April and mobile sportsbooks launched in September. Tennessee wasn’t nearly as fast, legalizing mobile sports betting in July 2019 and allowing mobile sportsbooks to go live in the state in November 2020.
Once a bill is passed in North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper has 10 days to either sign or veto it. If he doesn’t do anything, a bill becomes law after the 10-day period expires. The governor has expressed support for legal sports betting, so that doesn’t seem to be a roadblock, but legislative and regulatory red tape often slow the process of mobile sportsbooks going live.
Based on typical timelines from legalization to launch, if North Carolina legalizes sports betting at the end of June, a launch by the end of 2022 seems possible. There would only be two months, however, before the start of the NFL season, so bettors in the state shouldn’t expect legal mobile wagering options in time for kickoff.