North Carolina Poised To Legalize Online Sports Betting

North Carolina is on the cusp of legal online sports betting. The state Senate sent the industry’s future back to the House on Thursday by passing House Bill 347 on its third reading.

Thursday’s 37-11 vote followed the Senate’s approval Wednesday and sent the North Carolina sports betting bill back to the House for concurrence on its changes. After some uncertainty on whether the House would accept the Senate’s changes, House Speaker Tim Moore said Thursday that the House would concur with the changes early next week, according to WRAL-TV’s Brian Murphy.

The third reading and final vote is typically a formality. Much of the debate surrounding a bill occurs during its second reading, which happened Wednesday in the Senate for the sports betting bill.

Senate modifications to the NC sports betting bill

The changes made to the legislation by the Senate significantly altered it from the version the House passed in March. Among the most significant modifications the Senate passed:

  • A pathway to pari-mutuel horse racing betting
  • A tax rate increase on operators from 14% to 18%
  • The elimination of tax writeoffs for operators’ promotional spending

The Senate also changed the language surrounding when sports betting will launch in the state. The North Carolina Lottery Commission, which will serve as the regulator, will authorize a launch date no sooner than Jan. 8, 2024, but “as soon as practicable and may be no later than twelve months after the date this act becomes law.” The act would become law once signed by Gov. Roy Cooper, who has indicated he will sign a sports betting bill.

What’s in the sports betting bill now?

Much of what was in the House version of the bill remains, but here are some of the additional details in the bill as it heads back to the lower chamber:

  • Allows for betting on college sports
  • Allows for 12 online sportsbook licenses
  • Charges $1 million every five years for sports betting licenses
  • Expands retail sports betting options to eight sports facilities, including Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, Charlotte Motor Speedway, North Wilkesboro Speedway, PNC Arena in Raleigh, the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, Spectrum Center in Charlotte and WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary
  • Allows bettors to fund their online accounts with credit cards
  • Sends $2 million in tax revenue to the Department of Health and Human Services to fight problem gambling, among other uses

Showdown in House averted

It was unclear how the House would react to the Senate’s changes to the bill. House sponsor Jason Laine, R-Lincoln, maintained that the Senate had communicated with him about changes to the bill.

Moore, R-Cleveland, suggested Wednesday that the House would not agree to the Senate’s change and that he preferred to combine sports betting legislation with casino and video lottery terminal legislation, according to WRAL-TV.

“Right now, the plan is probably that we don’t concur, but we’re going to talk through it,” Moore told WRAL-TV.

That was news to Saine, the TV station reported.

“The supposed ‘proposal’ has not been run by me or the other bill sponsors,” Saine said. “I don’t deal that way, and our plan is to concur with sports betting only. I support the other efforts but they will need another vehicle.”

Moore seemed to have put the matter to rest Thursday when he said the House would concur with the Senate changes early next week, according to Murphy’s tweet.

The House next convenes in Raleigh at 3 p.m. Monday.

Update: The eagerly awaited launch of online sports betting in North Carolina is slated for the first half of 2024. Stay ahead of the game and discover the best NC sportsbook promotions anticipated by clicking our link provided.

About the Author

Jason Schaumburg

Jason Schaumburg is a content manager for Catena Media with responsibilities for NCSharp, PlayFL and PlayTexas. He has more than 20 years of journalism experience and spent nearly four years as communications director at the Illinois Lottery.