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A North Carolina sports betting bill has cleared the state Senate, but could face long odds down the hall in the House. 

The Senate tally was 26-19 out of 50 senators, with some members absent or otherwise not voting. That gives the bill enough support to advance to the lower chamber where pushback is likely. 

A few State Representatives in Raleigh were publicly questioning the need for Senate Bill 688 before it cleared the Senate on Thursday afternoon. One of those lawmakers is Rep. Donny Lambeth, a Forsyth Republican who hails from the same county as SB 688 lead co-sponsor and Democrat Sen. Paul Lowe. 

Lambeth told the Winston-Salem Journal on Wednesday that the bill “will be looked at very closely by the House,” adding that he doesn’t expect a quick turnaround. The bill is opposed by several groups that are historically against gambling, including the North Carolina Family Policy Council. 

“There are some individuals who think this is a terrible and a bad thing,” Lowe told North Carolina’s CBS17 in late July

Still, the Winston-Salem Democrat is optimistic that a need for state revenue and economic development will keep moving the bill forward. 

“We’ve got a lot of things that need revenue in our state,” Lowe said in his CBS17 interview. “And one of the things people like to do is bet.” Lowe is sponsoring the bill alongside Republican Senate Majority Whip Jim Perry of Lenoir. 

Both Lowe and Perry have said that SB 688 could generate as much as $50 million a year for the State of North Carolina through tax and licensing on sports wagering authorized in the bill. 

What NC Sports Betting Could Look Like Under SB 688

SB 688 would authorize the North Carolina State Lottery Commission to issue between 10 and 12 “interactive” sports betting operator licenses for mobile and online sport betting as well as retail sports betting tethered to professional sports or professional golf venues.

Bettors would be able to place wagers on pro, college, and esports, plus any other event approved by the commission. Wagers on amateur sports would also be allowed, as long as they aren’t youth sports. 

Here’s a refresher of proposed fees and taxes under the North Carolina proposal: 

  • Interactive Sports Wagering License: $500,000 license free, renewable for $100,000 at five years
  • Service Provider License: $25,000 license fee, renewable for $10,000 at five years
  • Data Supplier License: $15,000 license fee, renewable for $5,000 at five years 

Tax: 8% on monthly adjusted gross revenue from each interactive sports wagering operator, with 50 percent of the revenue placed into a proposed North Carolina Major Events, Games, and Attractions Fund. “Major event” is defined by SB 388 as an event at a professional sports facility or an event sponsored by the PGA or other major national golf associations. 

What Next For SB 688

A House vote on SB 688 could come by next week as lawmakers attempt to wrap up budget negotiations and other work ahead of a break later this summer.  

Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger said he would like most of the North Carolina General Assembly’s work to be finished by late August. Lawmakers will then return to Raleigh later this year to take up redistricting. 

Licensing could happen rather quickly if North Carolina passes mobile sports betting legislation this year. Perry’s bill allows a sports betting company licensed under “substantially equivalent” requirements in another state, territory, or DC to apply and “be licensed as an interactive sports wagering operator without further examination.”

Licenses to qualified operators would be issued within 60 days after an application is filed, per the bill. 

About the Author
Rebecca Hanchett

Rebecca Hanchett

Writer and Contributor
Rebecca Hanchett is a political writer based in Kentucky's Bluegrass region who covers legislative developments at Gaming Today. She worked as a public affairs specialist for 23 years at the Kentucky State Capitol. A University of Kentucky grad, she has been known to watch UK basketball from time to time.

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