A long-awaited bill to legalize mobile sports betting in North Carolina, including on collegiate and professional sports, was filed in the state’s General Assembly on Monday.
A bill filed by House Representative Jason Saine and a bi-partisan group of lawmakers would permit as many as 12 mobile sportsbooks in North Carolina. Current North Carolina law limits sports betting to in-person retail locations at tribal casinos.
Rep. Saine’s HB 347 is similar to a bill proposed in 2022 that failed the House by one vote. There is hope that this year’s bill will succeed.
“We’re going to be up 10 votes from where we were last year, so long as we don’t have too much division among the proponents of this legislation,” sports gambling lobbyist Jeremy Kudon told Sports Business Journal in January. “It’s just a matter of getting through the process in both chambers again.”
Last year’s efforts to legalize mobile sports betting in North Carolina failed mainly due to concerns voiced by legislators for ill effects online gaming could have on their state residents. Rep. Saine told WRAL-TV in Raleigh that he believes those concerns have been addressed.
“This bill is a bipartisan bill, and we’ve learned a good bit from both sides about some of the tweaks that needed to happen,” said Rep. Saine. “We’ve worked to accommodate those concerns, and we believe we have a bill that can do better than pass. It can get broad support from both caucuses.”
Details of the North Carolina Sports Betting Proposal
HB 347 would tax adjusted gross gaming revenue at 14%, distributing this revenue to a handful of different entities. The legislation addresses problem gambling by providing $2 million annually to the Department of Health and Human Services for gambling education and treatment programs.
Another unique aspect of Rep. Saine’s bill is a provision to assist the athletic departments of Elizabeth City State University, Fayetteville State University, North Carolina A&T University, North Carolina Central University, University of North Carolina at Asheville, University of North Carolina at Pembroke, and Winston-Salem State University. The proposed $300,000 annual payments plus 10% of remaining revenue may not put these schools on par with March Madness regulars Duke and North Carolina, but it does provide some assistance to these lower-funded schools.
The law would also allow sports lounges at certain venues across the state, including Raleigh’s PNC Arena and Cary’s WakeMed Soccer Park. Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium and Spectrum Center, as well as Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, could open lounges or “places of public accommodation,” where gamblers could place bets via their online accounts.
North Carolina’s deadline for the proposed bill moving to the State Senate is May 4, giving the House nearly two months to proceed. The state’s legislative session concludes at the end of August.
The bill proposes Jan. 1, 2024, as a start date, which would provide North Carolinians with mobile sports betting in time for the next Super Bowl.
Photo by: Alexander Lukatskiy