North Carolina will have new funding to fight problem gambling if the state legalizes sports betting.
Sports betting is a profitable industry for gambling companies and the states they operate in. States with sports betting have decisions to make regarding what to spend the new tax money on. Each state does things differently since millions of new dollars are in play every year.
If North Carolina sports betting passes and is signed by Gov. Roy Cooper, a chunk of the state’s tax money should flow directly into problem gambling treatment and prevention.
North Carolina problem gambling funding
Lawmakers in North Carolina tried to legalize sports betting last year but didn’t make it to the finish line.
Rep. Jason Saine, R-Lincoln, will take another swing in 2023 with a new sports betting bill, which is expected to be filed in the statehouse any day now.
A key difference between last year’s bill and the new one is how the state will dice up its tax money.
This new bill plans to double the amount of money spent on fighting problem gambling compared with 2022’s bill. That would mean an increase from $1 million to $2 million in annual funding.
That cash can go a long way toward treating and preventing problem gambling.
Under this year’s sports betting bill, problem gambling money would flow to the Department of Health and Human Services. Of course, all of this is still subject to change. Anything can happen once the bill is filed and debated in the statehouse.
Doubling the proposed funding is one thing, but will that number actually be enough to serve North Carolina’s needs? It’s hard to say this far away from legalization. The North Carolina Council on Problem Gambling did not respond to NC Sharp’s request for more information on how effective the proposed amount of funding could be.
Middle of the pack in problem gambling spending
North Carolina plans to send $2 million of its sports betting taxes to fight problem gambling, but how does that compare to its neighbors? As it turns out, it’s a pretty solid amount of funding for a state of North Carolina’s size.
It’s common for other states to use a percentage system rather than a flat rate. That allows the state’s problem gambling funding to grow hand-in-hand with the state’s sports betting industry.
Neighboring Tennessee, for example, sends 5% of its annual sports betting taxes toward mental health programs. The Volunteer State took in $68 million in sports betting taxes last year, translating to about $3.4 million for addiction services.
Virginia also uses a percentage system, and 2.5% of its annual sports betting tax haul goes toward its Problem Gambling Treatment and Support Fund. Virginia collected a little over $28 million worth of taxes during its 2022 fiscal year, translating to about $700,000 for the state’s fund.
In other words, North Carolina’s proposed problem gambling funding would put it in the middle of the pack compared with its two sports betting neighbors; $2 million is a pretty typical amount of money to allocate for addiction services. It isn’t exceedingly high or low compared with most markets in the US.
At the very least, the new sports betting bill doubling the proposed funding from last year’s legislation shows that lawmakers are taking problem gambling seriously. The more funding to help keep North Carolina residents safe, the better.