North Carolina lawmakers appear to be in sync with their constituents when it comes to legal sports betting. The Senate on Monday moved forward SB 688, a bill that would legalize statewide mobile sports betting with an 8% tax rate. And a new East Carolina University survey revealed that 54% of North Carolinians support legal sports betting.
North Carolina already has limited retail sports wagering at two tribal casinos owned by the Eastern Band of Cherokees. The General Assembly approved that in July 2020 and the casinos began taking bets on March 18 of this year. But the bill working its way through the state legislature would allow those in North Carolina to wager on their mobile devices as well as at certain sports facilities via kiosk. The bill does not contemplate traditional brick-and-mortar sportsbooks.
The bill, which is now in the Committee on Commerce and Insurance, would allow for up to a dozen digital platforms, require the use of official league data for most Tier II wagers, and authorize wagering on pro, college, amateur, and eSports. The North Carolina Education Lottery would be the regulator.
Tax revenue would be split evenly between the North Carolina Major Events, Games, and Attractions Fund and the general fund. The events fund, which is created within the bill, would be used to attract major events such as the March Madness tournament, golf tournaments, concerts, and political conventions to the state.
Should the bill become law as written, North Carolina would become the second state behind Wyoming to allow patrons to fund sports betting accounts with cryptocurrency.
Application reciprocity an option
Sports betting operators would pay a $500,000 license and application fee, good for five years. In Year Six, a $100,000-per-year renewal fee would kick in. It appears that lawmakers are hoping to streamline the application process by allowing for reciprocity with other sports betting states:
A person holding a license to engage in sports wagering, on the basis of comparable licensing requirements issued to that person by a proper authority by another state or territory of the United States or the District of Columbia if that jurisdiction’s requirements for licensure, certification, or registration are substantially equivalent to or exceed the requirements of this State, and who, in the opinion of the Commission otherwise meets the requirements of this Article based upon verified evidence may, upon application, be licensed as an interactive sports wagering operator without further examination.
Sponsors of the measure said it could mean $25 million to $50 million in economic benefits for North Carolina. Opponents argue, however, it could come with some social costs.https://t.co/An65Pjk8iN
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) August 5, 2021
The bill would also give regulators 60 days to approve licenses, but it does not specify a go-live date. The bill would become effective Oct. 1.
Dems, Independents most supportive
SB 688 is a bipartisan bill, with nine Democrats and six Republicans listed as sponsors, but among citizens of North Carolina, support for legal sports betting shows some political divide — 54% of Democrats and 60% of Independents favor legal sports betting while only 43% of Republicans polled do so. As has been the case in other states, younger people are more supportive — 70% of the 18-44 age demographic support sports betting while that number drops to 43% of those over 45.
The survey also revealed that voters are less likely to support legal sports betting than non-voters (47% vs. 66%). The poll was taken between July 28-Aug. 5 and had 762 respondents.
“These results suggest that legalized sports betting has public support from the overall adult population in North Carolina. However, it is also worth noting those who voted in the last election were more likely to disapprove than to approve of legalized sports gambling, which complicates the political considerations for North Carolina legislators,” said Peter Francia, director of the ECU Center for Survey Research, via press release.
North Carolina is bordered by two states — Tennessee and Virginia — that have live, digital sports betting, and two — South Carolina and Georgia — that have no legal sports betting.