House Gives Initial Approval To Senate Sports Betting Changes

One North Carolina sports betting House concurrence vote down, one to go in Raleigh.

State representatives in the lower chamber voted, 67-42, on Tuesday to approve changes made to the North Carolina sports betting bill by the Senate. The House must vote to concur once more before sending the bill to Gov. Roy Cooper. That last vote could happen as soon as Wednesday.

The soonest sports betting could launch is Jan. 8, 2024. The North Carolina Lottery Commission has one year after the bill becomes law to launch sports betting, but that can’t be before Jan. 8. The bill would become law when signed by Cooper.

What the Senate changed in the sports betting bill

The Senate changes to HB 347 significantly altered it from the House’s version passed in March. Among the biggest changes were:

  • Legalizing pari-mutuel horse racing betting;
  • Increasing the tax rate on operators from 14% to 18%;
  • Eliminating tax write-offs for operators’ promotional spending.

The bill allows for betting on college sports. Up to 12 online sportsbook licenses would be available, renewable for $1 million every five years. It allows bettors to fund their online accounts with credit cards. The legislation sends $2 million in tax revenue to the Department of Health and Human Services to fight problem gambling, among other uses.

Retail sports betting expansion could be coming

In-person sports wagering is currently allowed at the state’s three tribal casinosHarrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel in Murphy and Catawba Two Kings Casino in Kings Mountain. These casinos would be eligible for online sports betting licenses under HB 347. Those licenses would not count against the 12 allowed under the proposal.

The revised sports betting bill expands retail sports betting to eight sports facilities across the state or within a 1.5-mile radius around the facility. Those facilities include:

  • Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte;
  • Charlotte Motor Speedway;
  • North Wilkesboro Speedway;
  • PNC Arena in Raleigh;
  • Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte;
  • Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro;
  • Spectrum Center in Charlotte; and
  • WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary.

Any new retail sportsbook at these locations would be limited to accepting cash bets.

Moving forward with the bill

The sports betting bill requires one more concurrence vote in the House before it can be sent to the governor. That vote must happen on a different legislative day, so the soonest it could happen is Wednesday.

There was no debate on the Senate changes Tuesday in the House, much to the chagrin of Rep. Pricey Harrison, D-Guilford. Harrison asked House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, whether debate would be allowed before the last vote. Moore said Harrison would have to take that up with the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jason Saine, R-Lincoln.

Should the House vote affirmatively one more time on the Senate changes, the bill would be in the governor’s hands. Cooper could sign it, ignore it or veto it. If he ignores it, it will become law.

About the Author

Jason Schaumburg

Jason Schaumburg is a content manager for Catena Media with responsibilities for NCSharp, PlayFL and PlayTexas. He has more than 20 years of journalism experience and spent nearly four years as communications director at the Illinois Lottery.