North Carolina Advances Sports Betting Bill

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Up to 12 North Carolina sports betting licenses would be offered under a bill fast-tracked today by the Senate Finance Committee. 

Senate Bill 688, sponsored by Republican Senate Majority Whip Jim Perry of Lenoir, would require the state to offer a minimum of 10 and max of 12 “interactive sports wagering” licenses covering mobile and online sports betting, including interactive sports betting in-house. An identical bill is pending in the House. 

North Carolina already has legal retail sports betting at its western tribal casinos. Caesars sportsbooks were recently opened at Harrah’s casinos run by the Eastern Band of the Cherokee. A sportsbook is also planned for the Catawba Two Kings Casino near Charlotte. The casinos could apply for and be granted mobile licenses under the bill, although those licenses wouldn’t count toward the maximum 12 licenses. 

“A tribal gaming enterprise deemed an interactive sports wagering operator … shall not count towards the total number of authorized interactive sports wagering operators in this state,” the bill states. 

Proposed License Fees and Tax Rate

Here is a rundown of proposed fees and taxes under SB 688: 

Operators

$500,000 license fee, renewable at 5 years for $100,000

Service Providers

$25,000 license fee, renewable at 5 years for $10,000

Data Suppliers

$15,000 license fee, renewable at 5 years for $5,000

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. 

The bill defines “major event” as an event held at a sports facility or an event sponsored by the PGA or other major national golf associations. As for a sports facility — that would be defined as a pro sports facility that seats a minimum of 17,000. 

How Fast Could Licenses Be Issued Under SB 688? 

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. Platform provider and data supplier licenses would also be required. 

Next Steps

Perry’s bill is now scheduled to go to the Senate Judiciary Committee. If it passes that test, it will be referred to the Senate Commerce and Insurance Committee for approval before making it to the Senate floor. 

It’s uncertain if Perry’s bill or the companion bill in the House will make it through this year — although it does have bipartisan support. 

Local sources say that Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper also backs the bill and is working behind-the-scenes to get it passed. 

Perry told the Senate Finance Committee that legalizing mobile and online sports betting could bring between $25 million to $50 million in state revenue to North Carolina annually, and possibly more. 

“We can triangulate and take a best guess,” he said. What’s certain, Perry said, is that North Carolina will lose money if it doesn’t regulate sports betting in the state. 

“I’m unsure how to measure that we have sports betting today for those who want to bet — it’s just not something regulated and taxed by the state,” said the Senator. “Because it exists today, I don’t think we can ignore that fact.”

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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