A mobile sports betting bill passed through the North Carolina Senate but was narrowly shot down in the House in June, but sports wagering supporters aren’t giving up on the push to bring widespread sports betting to the state. Among those hoping for legalized online sports betting is Carolina Hurricanes General Manager Don Waddell, who cites the potential revenue stream from an in-stadium sportsbook as a positive for his franchise.
“[Not having legal mobile sports betting] just puts us behind,” Waddell told WRAL. “We’re behind because of ticket prices and sponsorship dollars and all that. It just puts us further behind from a revenue standpoint.”
Several professional sports franchises in North Carolina, including the Hurricanes and the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, have voiced their support for legal mobile sports betting and retail wagering in or near their respective arenas. Currently, two casinos offer legal retail sports betting in North Carolina.
There is notable support within the state legislature for legal betting. Rep. Jason Saine tried to usher bills through the House during the most recent legislative session, and while the effort came up short, there were fellow legislators who supported the bills.
Additionally, recent polling suggests the general public in North Carolina is receptive to the idea of legal mobile sports betting.
On the flipside, doubts remain among legislators about the moral values associated with sports betting. Others shared concerns about possible integrity issues during House debates, while proponents of legal wagering argue that creating a regulated market is a better option for quelling integrity concerns than the current landscape in the state.
“I think given the stakeholder alignment on the bill, there was some real positive expectation that the bill could get through,” John Pappas, the state advocacy director for iDEA Growth and the founder and CEO of Corridor Consulting, told Sports Handle in June. “Ultimately, I think what was probably miscalculated was a cultural opposition to gambling in the state.”
It’s likely the debate among legislators will continue into 2023 and potentially beyond.
It’s unlikely that significant sports betting legalization progress is made in late 2022, setting up the probable introduction of mobile sports wagering bills in early 2023. It’s expected that legal mobile betting will come to North Carolina eventually, but when the legislature will decide to pass mobile sports wagering legislation is unclear.
Neighboring states Virginia and Tennessee each allow for mobile sports betting, and North Carolinians wanting to place mobile bets will either drive across state borders or use illegal platforms. At some point, North Carolina legislators may opt for legalization in hopes of regulating the market and generating additional tax revenue.
If you take I-95 north from North Carolina you'll hit a legal sports betting state every step of the way.
— Sam McQuillan (@sam_mcquill) August 1, 2022
After this fall’s election cycle, there could be a shakeup in views related to sports betting as new legislators enter the statehouse. Sports betting isn’t a top priority for most legislators, but it’s a topic that professional sports franchises and some North Carolinians want to see addressed in a timely fashion.
Expect to see sports betting bills come up again in 2023, and in the meantime, stakeholders behind the scenes will lobby to convince a few on-the-fence legislators of the potential benefits.