North Carolina is taking another swing at legalizing online sports betting this year. Lawmakers are expected to file a new bill any day now, but what are the chances of it passing?
Right now, sports betting in North Carolina only exists within three tribal casinos around the state. A new bill would open the floodgates for up to a dozen online sports betting apps to open for business.
As it turns out, the bill has a solid chance of making it to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk this year.
One vote short in 2022
Last year’s sports betting efforts fell painfully short of reaching the finish line. Senate Bill 688 would have legalized sports betting in North Carolina, and its companion bill, Senate Bill 38, would have tweaked the language to allow betting on college sports in the state.
SB 38 cleared the House floor by a razor-thin one vote. The 51-50 margin was just enough for the bill to squeak by.
However, the main bill didn’t have as much luck. SB 688 was ultimately voted down, 51-50. The vote was a narrow defeat, but it was enough to kill North Carolina’s sports betting chances last year.
According to Matthew Kredell, the senior lead writer for PlayUSA, the chaos of having two separate bills with multiple votes was the nail in the coffin last year.
“A lot went wrong for North Carolina sports betting to fail by one vote last year, and the Bible Belt contingent that is morally opposed to gambling was able to capitalize,” Kredell said. “Lawmakers feel they shored up support and added some new backers that will lead to a less-eventful passage this year.”
North Carolina sports betting bill has a clear path
The further south you go, the more resistance you’ll typically find to gambling expansion. North Carolina failed to legalize sports betting last year, but things look good for 2023.
Lawmakers who support sports betting have had an extra year to educate their colleagues. Toss in a handful of new faces at the statehouse, and this year’s bill has a solid chance to become law.
Considering that last year’s bill fell short by a single vote, there isn’t much progress left to make this year. Kredell wrote for PlayUSA that 2022’s situation was more of an anomaly than a typical result for a North Carolina bill.
“Rarely does the legislature call a bill for a vote only to have it fail,” Kredell wrote. “That happened with sports betting last year in the North Carolina House. One representative changed his vote and the bill failed. It would have still needed to go back to the Senate and a conference committee, but when both chambers pass a bill it usually gets worked out.”
Even Cooper is on board with sports betting this time around. If this year’s bill clears the House and the Senate, it will likely receive his signature and become law in North Carolina.
There are no guarantees in the statehouse, but the future is looking bright.
Once Rep. Jason Saine files the bill, things will start moving quickly. The bill will have until May 4 to cross over to the Senate. From there, lawmakers can hash things out until the legislative session ends Aug. 31.
As legal online sports betting in North Carolina approaches, make sure to stay in the know about the latest legislative efforts and most anticipated sports betting promotions. Explore our dedicated NC online sports betting promos page for all the latest updates and exclusive offers.