Eight months after it fell short by one vote in the state House, North Carolina online sports betting is likely to take a major step toward legalization this week.
North Carolina Rep. Jason Saine, who has been at the forefront of state politicians’ efforts to pass an online sports betting bill, told the Raleigh News & Observer last week that he expects a bill to be filed in the NC General Assembly in short order.
“This past week, the bipartisan group of legislators who are formulating the bill saw language of the coming bill and worked to tweak a few items,” Saine told the News & Observer. “We fully expect to see the bill filed this week and begin filing and moving the legislation through the committee process.”
Governor echos NC sports betting optimism
This update is far from a surprise. Two NC sports betting bills passed three committees in a 24-hour span ahead of the vote on the House Floor that occurred on June 22, 2022.
The bills had plenty of momentum, but the final vote on Senate Bill 688 was 51-50 against the bill, which meant that bill was dead for 2022. The 2023 North Carolina legislative session convened on Jan. 11, and work on an online sports betting bill began quickly.
With time for both sides to discuss what they would vote for, the for and against camps appear to have come to an agreement. Even Gov. Roy Cooper appears to be on board, based on an interview with reporters at a Carolina Hurricanes game last week, according to the same News & Observer article.
“I think it’s gonna pass from what I hear,” Gov. Cooper said. “We’re trying to make sure that we get good legislation that is fair to the taxpayers but also recognize that it’s something that’s going on anyway so we might as well get benefit for our schools and for our state.”
If it does pass, the state’s professional sports teams are expected to seek their own sports betting licenses.
Be patient and wait: Why unregulated sports betting apps are not worth the gamble in North Carolina
What did the failed online sports betting bill call for?
North Carolina lawmakers passed a companion bill (SB 38) that increased the financial impact of sports betting on the state. It raised the tax rate from 8% to 14% and raised the online sports betting license fee from $500,000 to $1 million. It was too little, too late.
SB 688 would have given the go-ahead for 10-12 NC online sports betting licenses and for professional sports venues in the state to build their own sports betting lounges.
Details of the bill that Saine said he expects to be filed this week are not available, but for a state the size of North Carolina, 10-12 online sports betting licenses seem like a good ballpark figure.
By not legalizing online sports betting last year, North Carolina missed out on a large sports betting handle and subsequent revenue that would have resulted from the Final Four matchup between the North Carolina and Duke men’s basketball teams during March Madness.
Glitz and Glamor: North Carolina could support nine Vegas-style casinos
Gambling options in North Carolina
North Carolina residents won’t be able to begin using sports betting apps as soon as they are legalized. The state government will have to go through a regulatory process that could take as little as a few months as it did in Kansas or as much as one year as it did in Ohio.
In the meantime, the only legal sports betting available in North Carolina is at three retail casinos. Two are Harrah’s properties in the western part of the state — Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort and Valley River Casino & Hotel — and Catawba Two Kings Casino in Kings Mountain.
North Carolina does offer sweepstakes sports betting with the Fliff app. With Fliff, customers can wager without depositing any of their own money, and they can win cash and gift cards.
AP Photo/Jason Behnken