Bipartisan lawmakers introduced legislation yesterday to bring sports betting to North Carolina, less than two weeks after a major report indicated proceeds from increased gambling opportunities in the state could significantly help fund education programs.
Senate Bill 688, introduced yesterday by state Sens. Jim Perry (R) and Paul Lowe (D), would bring sports betting operations to a state that has historically been opposed to gambling. The Lumbee Tribe in Eastern North Carolina, for example, has struggled to garner federal recognition in part because of fears casinos would begin to populate Interstate 95, a major corridor on the East Coast.
Highlights of the bill include:
- Mobile-only options, but large sporting venues can have designated locations for betting with or without assistance;
- Up to 12 licenses;
- 8% of the revenue would go toward the North Carolina Education Lottery Commission;
- Bets could be placed with cryptocurrency and credit cards, as well as more traditional payment methods;
- $500,000 initial licensing fee, with renewals varying in price from $10,000 to $100,000.
The bill will now be referred to committee for consideration, but it’s up against a tight deadline. Crossover day, the date by which all bills must pass out of their chamber in time for consideration in the other body, is May 13.
Last week, WRAL in Raleigh obtained a report, which has subsequently been released publicly, detailing what impact increased gambling opportunities would have on the state.
The synopsis, compiled by Spectrum Gaming, concluded the state could reap nearly $350 million in revenue from sports betting alone during the next five years. It also looked at the impacts of other types of gambling and the results were equally astonishing: $2.5 billion from video poker and $2.2 billion from additional casinos.
Perry, in an interview with the Raleigh News & Observer, said the economic impact could not be ignored, especially when coupled with the financial realities the COVID pandemic has created.
“Until someone else brings me some ideas about how to help provide more funding for school construction in rural areas, then I’m looking at every idea,” Perry said.
Brick And Mortar Casinos
North Carolina has two casinos in the western part of the state, both run by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Last month, just in time for March Madness, they opened up sportsbooks allowing Tar Heel State residents to bet on their favorite teams before tip-off.
A third casino, outside of Charlotte, is scheduled to open up later this year. It too will eventually offer sports betting options.
The new legislation unveiled yesterday does not call for additional casinos, but the report did note the state could feasibly support up to nine casinos (page 54 of the linked report). One such location it recommended was in Pinehurst, home of the Pinehurst Golf Resort.
But state Rep. Jamie Boles (R), who represents the area, told The Pilot he was surprised to see the resort touted as a possible venue and does not support the move.