The North Carolina Senate approved mobile sports betting by a vote of 37-11 following a third reading on the Senate floor on Thursday.
The bill, if passed, would become law upon the signature of Gov. Roy Cooper. However, a recent amendment requested by the Lottery Commission would provide for a 12-month window after that date to launch online sports wagering in North Carolina.
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Next Steps for NC HB 347
HB 347 now returns to the House, where it requires a concurrence on multiple amendments added since the lower chamber passed the original proposal in March with a vote of 64-45.
Representative Jason Saine (R-Lincolnton) told WRAL that he has been pleased with the progress of his North Carolina sports wagering bill in the Senate and sounds optimistic that it will again receive the needed House votes.
“The Senate has had a thoughtful process and have been good partners in seeing this legislation through,” Rep. Saine said. “I think their good-faith efforts are greatly appreciated by sponsors and supporters of the bill in the House.”
House Speaker Tim Moore told reporters Thursday that the House will concur early next week, reversing his statements from Wednesday when he cast doubt on concurrence.
“We’re going to concur Tuesday and Wednesday,” Moore said, adding that the decision wasn’t a reversal. “It wasn’t really a change. It was more me not reading the notes properly.”
However, House Speaker Tim Moore, (R-Cleveland), had said Wednesday that he does not favor concurrence with the Senate bill and would prefer that sports gambling be combined with other gaming expansion, including casinos and video lottery terminals.
A House concurrence would send the bill to Gov. Cooper, who is expected to sign it into law. If the House does not approve the amendments, a conference committee would need to settle any differences before the legislative session ends on Aug. 31.
The Proposed North Carolina Sports Betting Market
Under the current proposal, the state’s Lottery Commission will be given the authority to issue betting licenses to up to 12 gambling operators. The measure would allow for up to eight licenses tethered to professional sports facilities, and leave the opportunity for four standalone mobile licenses.
Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte), Charlotte Motor Speedway, North Wilkesboro Speedway, PNC Arena (Raleigh), Quail Hollow Country Club (Charlotte), Sedgefield Country Club (Greensboro), Spectrum Center (Charlotte), and WakeMed Soccer Park (Cary) could all apply for retail locations and digital platforms.
Professional sports teams and facilities requested betting licenses before the legislative session began, arguing they should see greater benefit from legalization than out-of-state operators.
Amendments to NC’s Sports Betting Bill
Senate legislators added horse racing to the bill but later removed language that opened up the possibility of legal historical horse racing (HHR) in North Carolina. The addition was part of a remaining amendment expanding the legislation to legalize online bets on horse racing.
The now-removed language could have led to slot machine-like HHR devices in North Carolina.
Senators also added an amendment Tuesday that includes technical language fixes and some language to help the North Carolina Education Lottery Commission regulate the industry, including the 12-month window for going live following the bill’s effective date.
Where Will the Tax Proceeds Go?
Last week, the Commerce & Insurance Committee raised the sports betting revenue tax rate to 18% from 14% and eliminated deductions for promotional credits. The tax applies to the gross wagering revenue of the interactive sports wagering operator.
State projections show that by the third year of legalization, total bets are expected to exceed $6.6 billion, generating $100 million in tax revenue.
The tax proceeds are assigned to support gambling addiction education and treatment programs, local governments, or nonprofit organizations dedicated to amateur and youth sports, and athletic departments across the state’s universities, as well as provide grants to draw entertainment, musical, political, sporting or theatrical events to the state’s venues.