North Carolina’s sports betting bill made its way through its first committee hearing Tuesday.
The House Committee on Commerce met to discuss House Bill 347 for the first time. It passed through the committee on a 17-10 vote. The bill took its first step toward becoming law, but it still has a long way to go in the process.
The proposed legislation plans to greatly expand sports betting in North Carolina. It would allow online sportsbooks and in-person betting lounges to open for business in the state.
Committee on Commerce proposes bill amendments
A Committee on Commerce hearing is the first stop for gambling bills in North Carolina. It’s one of a handful of committees the state’s sports betting bill must make it through.
The committee held HB 347’s first hearing Tuesday and voted to give the bipartisan bill a favorable recommendation. The bill is heading to the House Finance Committee for its next hearing, which could come as Wednesday.
However, the bill didn’t make it through Tuesday’s hearing without any challenges.
Once again, the issue of college sports betting came up. Rep. John Autry, D-Mecklenburg, introduced an amendment to remove all college sports betting from the state.
“I just think that allowing college sports to be gambled on and sanctioned by the state would just sully all of those programs,” Autry said during the meeting.
The committee voted 19-7 against the amendment. At least for now, college sports betting remains in the bill.
Rep. Deb Butler, D-New Hanover, introduced her own amendment to the bill to eliminate credit card payments for online sportsbooks.
The idea is that not allowing credit cards is an extra responsible gambling safeguard for consumers. Some states, such as Iowa, Massachusetts and Tennessee, have similar clauses in their sports betting laws.
The committee ultimately voted against Butler’s amendment, 18-8.
North Carolina online sports betting by January
If everything goes according to plan for the bill, North Carolina residents could place online sports bets by Jan. 1, 2024. However, at least for now, that launch date is just a target.
North Carolina’s legislative session is incredibly long compared with other states. Whereas many states opt to meet for a handful of the early months of the year, North Carolina’s lawmakers are still working until the last day of August.
That could lead to some big shifts in the timeline if the bill’s progress slows.
For example, if the bill becomes law in August, there might not be enough runway left for the industry to launch in January. If the bill becomes law in May, that would give regulators and sports betting companies much more time to prepare.
The timeline essentially depends on how quickly the bill can make its way through these committees. After all, Gov. Roy Cooper can’t sign the legislation until it finally lands on his desk.
If today’s Committee on Commerce meeting is any indication, the bill will have plenty of hoops to jump through on the path to becoming law.