North Carolina‘s Senate approved HB 347, a digital sports betting bill, Thursday morning by a vote of 37-11. The heavily amended bill will now go back to the House for concurrence and then to Gov. Roy Cooper for his signature. The bill would allow for up to a dozen mobile sportsbooks, including four standalone platforms.
Despite the Senate’s amendments, which include an increase in the tax rate, changing the launch date, and banning operators from writing off promotional play, it is expected that the House will give its approval as early as next week.
According to WRAL, House Speaker Tim Moore told reporters, “We’re going to concur Tuesday and Wednesday,” after he’d been unclear about the concurrence plans Wednesday. “It wasn’t really a change. It was more me not reading the notes properly.”
Kentucky has been the only state to legalize sports wagering so far in 2023. Lawmakers in Vermont earlier this month passed a digital-only bill that would allow for up to six platforms. The bill has not landed on Gov. Phil Scott’s desk yet, but when it does, he’s expected to sign it.
Commercial locations could open
North Carolina’s new law would expand sports betting beyond brick-and-mortar at Native American properties in the state. In 2020, legislators passed a law that allows two tribal-owned casinos to offer retail wagering.
There was little discussion Thursday, save for a proposed amendment that would have changed the severability in the bill. As the bill currently stands, if one section of the proposal is deemed illegal, the rest of the bill would stand. One senator proposed an amendment that would have reversed that concept — if one section of the bill is found to be illegal, the entire bill would become null. But there was little appetite for this change, and the Senate voted to table the amendment.
Speaker Tim Moore says NC House will concur with Senate changes to sports gambling bill early next week.
— Brian Murphy (@murphsturph) June 1, 2023
If HB 347 gets approval from the House and Cooper’s signature, it would be up to a year before legal wagering is launched in North Carolina. Among the changes as the bill worked its way through the Senate is changing the go-live date from Jan. 8, 2024, to up to 12 months after the bill becomes law. Assuming the next phase of approvals moves quickly, the target date for launch would be June 2024 or before.
The Senate also upped the tax rate from 14% to 18%, added wagering on horse racing, and included a list of eight commercial retail locations that could have sportsbooks. Border states Tennessee and Virginia tax wagering revenue at 20% and 15%, respectively.
The Senate on Wednesday passed the bill on second reading, and the House approved its version by a vote of 64-45 in March.