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North Carolina could legalize mobile sports betting by football season.

That’s the takeaway from leading advocates as the North Carolina General Assembly is back to business for what is known as the “short session.”  

“We just want to make sure we have drummed up the votes, and I think we have,” state Sen. Paul Lowe, a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 688, told in Raleigh.  

“I feel confident about it.”

State Rep. Jason Saine, another backer, told WRAL he thought online sports betting could be live as soon as the fall.  

“It’s conceivable, if not by the first of football season, certainly by mid-season,” he said.  

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Current Legislation Calls For Modest Tax Rate

The North Carolina Senate passed SB 688 last year. The bill would legalize online betting on professional and collegiate sporting events and sets a minimum age of 21.

The bill calls for an 8% tax rate on gross gaming revenue, which is low by industry standards. Half of the tax revenue would go toward a newly created fund to help attract sports, entertainment, and political events to the state. Also, $1 million annually would be used to treat gambling addiction, and Lowe advocates some of the tax dollars going toward education. 

During an interview earlier this year in which he expressed support for sports betting, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said he would like to see the tax rate increased. 

“I think it is about time for us to step up and do it,” Cooper, a Democrat, told the ACC Now podcast. “…“[But] I think [there] probably … needs to be more state tax dollars involved in this, a bigger cut for the people.”

Lowe told WRAL he expects the bill to have some tweaks before a final version is approved. 

What Sports Betting In North Carolina Could Look Like

Sports betting is already legal in North Carolina at two casinos owned by the Cherokee tribe in the western part of the state. All bets must be placed at the casinos, so mobile sports betting is not available. 

Lowe’s bill aims to change that. 

His bill calls for 10-12 licenses. Major sportsbook operators such as FanDuel and DraftKings would be almost immediately eligible to participate. SB 688 stipulates a sportsbook company licensed under “substantially equivalent” requirements in another state could apply and “be licensed as an interactive sports wagering operator without further examination.”

Professional sports facilities with a capacity of at least 17,000 — including the Panthers’ Bank of America Stadium, Hornets’ Spectrum Center, Hurricanes’ PNC Arena, and Charlotte Motor Speedway — would be allowed to open sports betting lounges near the venues, according to the WRAL report.

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

While many hurdles need to be overcome before September, if the Senate acts fast, and Cooper signs a bill into law, mobile sports bets could be placed on the Panthers or Hurricanes in the fall.  

About the Author
Mary M. Shaffrey

Mary M. Shaffrey

Mary Shaffrey is a writer and contributor for Gaming Today with a focus on legislation and political content. Mary is an award-winning journalist who co-authored "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Government." She has spent more than 20 years covering government, both at the state and federal level. As a fan of the Baltimore Orioles and the Providence College Friars she feels cursed. Luckily she is a hockey mom too so her spirits aren't totally shot.

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