A pair of sports betting bills passed through the North Carolina House Judiciary I Committee on Tuesday evening. The passage is a step forward for potential legalization of mobile sports wagering within the state, but several steps remain before the bill becomes law, and the state’s legislative session ends on June 30.
Each bill — SB 38 and SB 688 were moved through the committee despite some pushback — would legalize mobile sports wagering in North Carolina. Currently, retail sports wagering is legal at a pair of tribal-owned casinos, but mobile sports betting isn’t yet legal across the state. Virginia and Tennessee each have legal online sports wagering, which has some North Carolina legislators eager to bring additional tax revenue to the state through legal wagering.
SB 688 also passes through the committee. A step forward for legal mobile sports betting in North Carolina, but several steps remain before the legislative session ends on June 30.
— Bennett Conlin (@BennettConlin) June 21, 2022
SB 38 includes a 14% privilege tax on gross gaming revenue, and there’s a $1 million application fee for sportsbook operators. There’s also a $1 million fee for license renewal, a piece of language included to drive more revenue to the state.
An amendment Tuesday would send $2 million of tax revenue to the Department of Health and Human Services to help with gambling addiction. SB 688 allocates only $1 million annually to the Department of Health and Human Services for gambling addiction education and treatment. SB 688 gives 50% of tax revenue to a fund designed to attract major sporting events to North Carolina, but bill sponsors suggested that percentage may be lower in SB 38. There’s some discussion expected in future committee hearings about exactly where the tax revenue may go.
Some legislators disapprove
While the bills passed through the committee, there was some pushback from a couple members of the committee. Rep. Pricey Harrison and Rep. Abe Jones were each outspoken about their concerns with the bills, namely the possibility of increased gambling addiction issues in the state.
“Should we here in this legislature approve gambling because Tennessee and Virginia do it? No, we should do it based on what our values are,” Jones said.
Jones went on to say legalizing sports gambling doesn’t align with his values.
“I’m not going to use my vote from this place to support gambling,” Jones said. “I think it’s wrong.”
Harrison did successfully add an amendment to SB 38 to remove wagering on amateur sports, but betting on collegiate sports is still approved under the bill. She hoped the ability to bet on collegiate sports would be removed as well, but that wasn’t supported.
“The opportunity for corruption, I’m very troubled by those pieces,” Harrison said.
Stops in the House Finance Committee and House Rules Committee are needed before either bill may reach the House floor. The House Finance Committee has regularly scheduled meetings every Tuesday and Thursday morning, while the House Rules Committee meets every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
If legalized — several steps remain before a sports betting bill becomes law — it will take at least a few months before statewide legal mobile sports wagering becomes available to North Carolinians. SB 38 states that online wagering platforms won’t launch until at least Jan. 1, 2023, according to a report from WRAL.
While different from optimistic timelines shared by legislators earlier this year, a 2023 launch makes more sense when compared to other states. It typically takes states 5-6 months to go from legalizing online sports betting to allowing mobile sportsbook operators to launch their offerings.