State Rep. Jason Saine, R-Lincoln, is the driving force behind the Tar Heel State being on the verge of legalizing online sports betting.
House Bill 347, a bill to regulate online sports betting and horse race betting, was sent to Gov. Roy Cooper on Friday. It cleared the North Carolina Legislature on Wednesday.
The bill allows for up to 12 online sportsbooks to launch in the state and expands retail sports betting to eight professional sports facilities. Retail sports betting is currently allowed through three tribal casinos in the state. Tribal casinos also would be allowed to conduct online sports betting. North Carolina online sports betting could launch as soon as Jan. 8, 2024, but no later than mid-June 2024, bringing with it a wealth of NC sports betting promos for state players to enjoy.
Saine sponsored HB 347 and shepherded it through the legislative process.
Who is Rep. Jason Saine?
Born in Lincolnton on Oct. 14, 1973, Jason Ray Saine is a graduate of the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and Columbia Southern University. Saine’s professional experience before entering politics included working as a public relations and social media manager.
He assumed office in 2011, filling out the remaining term of former Rep. Johnathan Rhyne. In 2o11, he was recognized as the most effective freshman legislator by the North Carolina House. He has been re-elected six times since.
In addition to his role in the North Carolina General Assembly, Saine serves as the national chair of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), where he has made issues such as tax reform, balanced budgets, investment in energy and emerging internet technologies top priorities.
Saine’s Sports Betting Agenda
Saine sees HB 347 as the result of years of compromise and debate.
Representing District 97, Saine has put in a lot of effort to bring mobile sports wagering from out of the shadows and into a legalized, regulated environment.
After a slow start in the 2022 legislative session, an online sports betting initiative co-authored by Saine was rushed through three House committees in less than 24 hours. The House, however, killed Senate Bill 688 by a 51-50 second reading vote.
Though the North Carolina House did advance companion bill Senate Bill 38, which provided amendments to SB 688, in its second reading, without SB 688, sports betting would not go forward in 2022.
Saine’s Voting Record on Gambling Expansion
Saine’s track record on gambling expansion shows solid and steady support almost from when North Carolina started considering legalizing sports betting.
On March 8, 2017, House Bill 279 was introduced to the House. The bill would have protected North Carolinians’ rights to participate in fantasy sports contests and ensured that fantasy websites could continue to operate in North Carolina. The bill died, but Saine voted in favor of it.
Two years later, another sports betting bill was brought forward. Senate Bill 154 aimed to legalize horse race wagering and sports betting at two tribal casinos. It passed the House and Senate and was signed into law by Gov. Roy Cooper. Saine also backed that bill.
During the 2020 legislative session, several bills relating to sports betting were presented. House Bill 302 pushed for the expansion of sports betting on tribal grounds. House Bill 929 aimed to regulate bingo, raffles, boxing and the North Carolina State Lottery. Saine sponsored both of those bills.
Considerable benefits for NC in legalizing sports betting
According to Saine, North Carolina would benefit considerably from the sports betting legislation.
In the bill’s most recent fiscal note, regulated sports wagering in North Carolina could bring in $100 million in tax revenue in its fifth year.
North Carolinians have an appetite to wager on sports, and it’s already happening – legal or not. That’s because the prohibition on North Carolina sports betting has given rise to an illicit network of anonymous online sports betting websites available 24/7 to anyone with a credit card.
Hundreds of millions of dollars yearly are lost to illegal operators – money that should flow into state coffers.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, neighboring states such as Virginia and Tennessee, which already have legal sports wagering options, are luring North Carolinians by the droves.
These factors all weigh considerably on Saine’s passion for bringing North Carolina up to par with its neighbors and allowing the state to regulate what is already a thriving illegal industry.
Image: Gerry Broome / The Associated Press