A Look Back at NC’s Failed Sports Betting Bill: Will 2023 Legislative Session Bring a New Bill?

Sports betting is a hot-button topic in the country, even more so in states like North Carolina, where online sports betting legislation has yet to pass. The closest North Carolina has gotten to passing sports betting legislation was in the 2022 summer window. SB 38 was the bill brought to a vote last summer that narrowly failed.

There is a lot of optimism that there is potential to pass some mobile sports legislation early in 2023. North Carolina begins the 2023 legislative session on Wednesday, Jan. 11, at Noon ET.

A new sports betting bill could be submitted at any time, and it likely would be similar to SB 38 from last year. While we wait for another sports betting bill, here is a look at what SB 38 called for.

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North Carolina Sports Betting Legislation Details 

There have been several sports betting bills that all had a lot of similarities in what each was trying to establish. Those bills give us a good idea of what sports betting in North Carolina could look like once online sports betting is finally legal. Looking at slight differences in the bills can also give us clues as to why sports betting legislation is yet to pass.

Number of Providers

Each state varies and has a different number of providers/operators allowed to operate in the state. In North Carolina, SB 38 and HB 631 are similar, and two of the most recent bills had a number of operators between 10 and 12. The number of operators has yet to be one of the sticking points regarding what legislators disagree on. If legislation is to pass, we can expect the number of operators to be between 10-12. That is a solid number and leaves room for all of the big-time sportsbook operations to work in North Carolina should the opportunity present itself.

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Operator Licenses Requirements

A commission would control the North Carolinas sports betting market. The commission would be in charge of approving licenses, collecting fees, and generally overseeing all things sports betting in North Carolina.

Based on the bills, one of the requirements for a sportsbook seeking a license in North Carolina was that they not allow wagering on youth sports or amateur sports.

A key sticking point and the difference between HB 631 and SB 38 was betting on college sports. HB 631 allowed it, while SB 38 did not allow it.

The tax rate is another major sticking point. In SB 38, the tax rate was set at 14%, and in HB 631, the tax rate was set at 8%. With slight differences in each on what exactly was being taxed. Whether it was adjusted gross revenue or a privilege tax that did not state exactly what type of operator income it was being taxed from.

The last of the most significant differences between the two bills was the various operator fees.

SB38

  • $1,000,000 Licensing fee
  • 50,000 application fee
  • $1,000,000 license renewal fee, $50,000 service provider license, and $30,000 sports wagering supplier license.

HB631

  • $500,000 licensing fee
  • $25,000 application fee
  • $100,000 license renewal fee and $10,000 service provider license

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How Can North Carolina Pass Online Sports Betting in 2023

A few critical factors in the 2023 legislative window could help potential sports betting legislation pass. Legislators are more familiar with sports betting legislation this time; legislators recognize how much money North Carolina is losing by not allowing mobile sports betting, and legislation was close to passing last time.

North Carolina State Representative Jason Saine, told CBS17 in Raleigh that he plans to file a sports betting bill that is very similar to the ones that narrowly failed. 

“More people are more familiar with it, and they’re also more familiar with the fact that we’re still losing money to other states,” Saine told CBS17. “So, I think that’s something that will resonate. I think we’re in a different place. We were so close last year.” 

The questions remain: Can legislators get over some of the significant hurdles and get the majority vote in both houses? As the fundamental issues remain:

  • College Sports Betting
  • Tax Rate
  • Operator Fees

If even one of those hurdles is cleared, it may be enough to get the majority vote. Sports betting could be a reality in North Carolina as early as the end of 2023 as Gov. Roy Cooper has shared support and would likely sign the legislation if it made it to his desk.

“We spent a long time last session, really over the course of two years, working with all the stakeholders trying to get the changes in and getting an agreement,” Saine told CBS17. “I think this is something that’s ready for primetime, really just shortly after we get into session.”

AP Photo/Gerry Broome

About the Author

Caleb Tallman

Caleb Tallman is a Journalist working with NC Sharp and has been writing sports and sports gambling content since 2019. Caleb has also written for various other publications, mainly as a ghostwriter. With solid experience and a wealth of sports gambling knowledge, whether legal information or betting predictions, Caleb provides everything sports bettors could be looking for.