While legislators are optimistic that North Carolina sports betting legislation will pass in the first legislative window of 2023, that’s not all that may be on the docket. North Carolina pro teams and pro sports leagues that have events in North Carolina have all come together to try and push legislators to give the majority of operator licenses to them.
It will be one of the many issues North Carolina legislators must address to pass a North Carolina sports betting bill. Last summer, when a sports betting bill was brought to the floor, it failed by a single vote. It failed largely due to regulatory arguments not necessarily on the merit of whether sports betting should be allowed.
If it were as simple as a yes/no vote on whether sports betting should be allowed, it would likely be a majority yes vote. Let’s hope that regulatory issues do not get in the way of passing sports betting legislation once again.
Which NC Teams and Organizations Seek Sports Betting Licenses
The proposed legislation from last summer would have made 12 North Carolina Sports betting operator licenses available. Pro teams and leagues in North Carolina want eight of them. The teams and leagues in the proposal include:
- Carolina Panthers
- Carolina Hurricanes
- Charlotte FC
- Charlotte Hornets
- NC Courage
- PGA Tour
- Charlotte Motor Speedway
The argument is that if the franchises, leagues, and venues are the ones that hold the licenses, it would require the sports betting operator to be tethered to one to operate in North Carolina. That is unless it is an operator that wins what would be one of four available mobile licenses in this proposal.
Proposal Pros and Cons
There are two sides to this and reasons why it could be good for North Carolina, but also reasons not to do it.
- The North Carolina teams and leagues are in agreement with the proposal. It is always a positive when a state launches sports betting, and the teams in the state are behind it.
- This proposal could potentially put more money into the North Carolina pro sports franchises, which in turn has the potential to help the North Carolina economy.
- This would limit license availability to four that did not require a tether to a team or league. If that were the case, sports betting operator giants like FanDuel and DraftKings would still get their mobile license without a tether but would leave smaller outfits out of the loop, requiring them to partner with a team or league.
- When you mix leagues as well as teams, it can be complicated. While there is a direct impact on how the pro franchises in North Carolina can benefit. Leagues like NASCAR and the PGA only have a few North Carolina events. This would complicate their license and sponsorship agreements. While also only having a minimal impact on the state’s economy.
- There is no inclusion for North Carolina colleges, several of which have arguably more popular teams than some of the professional franchises. While betting on in-state college teams or college sports, in general, is not guaranteed to be a part of a passed sports betting bill, this proposal needs to include them.
Latest North Carolina Sports Betting Bill Updates
State legislators return to Raleigh on Jan. 25 for the year’s first legislative session. The Senate has 12 new members, and the House has 28. With last year’s House vote on sports betting only failing by one vote, new members could tip the scale this time.
Many lawmakers are hesitant to reargue significant proponents of the bill, like the allocation of licenses.
“It’s a big deal,” Sen. Jim Perry, who previously sponsored this legislation, told WRAL News. “I would not force that on the parties that have been working on this for three years, including team representation.”
Other lawmakers who in the past voted against sports betting legislation feel there is now a better understanding of it all.
“When we went into that vote, a lot of us didn’t know what we were voting on, who we were benefiting, and when you vote on something as serious as gambling, my position is I kind of need to know what the lay of the land is,” Rep. Robert Reives told WRAL News.
The potential for sports betting legislation to pass in North Carolina is as high as it has ever been. The worry remains that, like last time, regulatory arguments and minor details could get in the way of the vote. Only time will if mobile sports betting in North Carolina will happen.
News Update: In June 2023, Gov. Roy Cooper signed an online sports betting bill into law. With online sportsbook launch dates now set for the first half of 2024, stay ahead of the game and check out the best NC sports betting promos and welcome bonuses expected to be on offer.
AP Photo/Gerry Broome