The University of North Carolina played in the men’s basketball national championship a season ago, getting there by defeating rival Duke in the Final Four. The semifinal game drew major national attention, yet fans in North Carolina couldn’t legally place mobile wagers on the games between the storied Tar Heel State programs.
While sports betting is permitted in North Carolina at a pair of tribal casinos, mobile sports wagering isn’t yet legal in the state. Could that change in 2023? It’s possible, as legislators are expected to debate the merits of regulated online sports betting again in 2023.
“We spent a long time last session, really over the course of two years, working with all the stakeholders trying to get the changes in and getting agreement,” Rep. Jason Saine told CBS-17. “I think this is something that’s ready for primetime, really just shortly after we get into session.”
Saine felt similarly in 2022, even going as far as saying he didn’t think the 2022 vote would be that close. Those dreams turned out to be fantasy.
Senate Bill 688, which would have legalized mobile sports betting in North Carolina, passed through the Senate in 2021 but failed to make it through the House in 2022. The bill fell just short, as some legislators shared moral objections to sports betting.
“The one opinion that matters to me, the one judgment to me that matters, is what does Jesus think?” Rep. Larry Pittman said during a discussion last year. “It’s very clear from his word what he thinks of these two bills, and I’m gonna be on his side and vote ‘No.’”
Others worried about on-field integrity and want to keep wagering out of college sports. Some legislators wanted college sports betting removed from any bill, which happened during last year’s session before the legislation was ultimately voted down.
Whoa. An amendment adopted in the North Carolina House will ban wagering on college sports.
Mobile sports wagering bills may pass in coming days, but legally wagering on Duke, UNC, any other college contests, is no longer included.
— Bennett Conlin (@BennettConlin) June 22, 2022
Not including college sports in a mobile betting bill would reduce potential tax revenue, as college sports interest in the state is massive. Duke, N.C. State, and UNC are among the colleges in North Carolina that generate major interest from fans across the state in multiple sports.
Like 2022, there’s hope among sports betting supporters that 2023 will be the year North Carolina legalizes mobile sports wagering. That doesn’t mean it’s a sure thing, but legislators are confident entering the legislative session, which started Wednesday.
“I think the prospects are pretty good,” Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger told WCNC Charlotte. “We just have to see.”
Berger on sports betting: he believes there will be a renewed effort. He says he believes it will start in the house and move to the senate. He says he think it has enough support this year.
— Shamarria Morrison (@SMorrisonTV) January 9, 2023
While a sports betting bill has yet to be filed or discussed during the state’s legislative session, once legislation is filed, it could have an easier path to approval in 2023 compared to 2022. Rep. Pricey Harrison voted against sports betting last session, but she admitted to CBS-17 that newly elected members of the General Assembly could sway the vote in favor of legal mobile betting this year.
“There is a younger class coming in, and a bunch of the old guard that were anti-gambling are gone and replaced by younger members,” Harrison told CBS-17.