Legal sports betting at a Carolina Panthers game could be closer than fans may expect.
A bipartisan bill that would bring ten to 12 online sports betting apps like FanDuel and DraftKings to North Carolina cleared the House Finance Committee Wednesday after being approved by the House Commerce Committee by a vote of 17-10 on Tuesday. The legislation could come to the House floor for consideration this week or next.
Should House Bill 347 become law this session, online sports betting would be allowed starting in Jan. 2024.
Bettors could also place their sports wagers in person at North Carolina pro sports stadiums, NASCAR tracks, and pro golf tournament facilities.
Online betting would be geo-fenced outside of North Carolina tribal lands, where Harrah’s casinos run by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in western North Carolina and a casino run by the Catawba Indian Nation west of Charlotte now offer retail sports betting. The tribes would automatically be offered their own online sports betting licenses outside of the 12-license maximum limit.
According to a story on North Carolina CBS17 on Tuesday, HB 347 lead co-sponsor Rep. Zack Hawkins, D-Durham, described the bill as a way to capture money now being funneled to illegal sports betting operators.
“We know that it exists, but instead of ignoring it, we want to bring it from the dark into the light,” Hawkins was reported as saying by CBS17. “Much like we allow for taxes on alcohol and cigarettes, we could use this activity, this revenue from an activity already happening in our state, for good.”
NC Sports Betting Tax, Licensing Could Mean $60 Million Annually For State
All online sports betting licenses would be effective for five years under HB 347. Initial revenue from licensing of up to 12 potential operators would generate $12 million for the state – or $1 million per licensee – plus $1 million to renew. Service providers and suppliers would also be licensed.
The proposed tax under the bill would be 14 percent on adjusted gross revenue from sports betting, both online and in person at sports facilities outlined in the bill. Betting would be permitted on pro sports, college sports, esports, parimutuel, and amateur sports, including Olympic competition.
Tax and licensing combined could generate $60 million for the state in FY 2024-25, according to an ABC 11 report Wednesday. That estimate came from Gov. Roy Cooper’s budget proposal released last week.
Cooper, a Democrat, is backing HB 347 according to ABC 11. The bill also has at least 50 co-sponsors from both parties in the House, including lead Hawkins and Rep. Jason Saine, R-Lincoln.
Problem Gambling, HBCUs, Events Fund To Benefit From NC Sports Betting Bill
Problem gambling is not overlooked in HB 347. Programs operated by the state Department of Health and Human Services would be allocated $2 million each year from legal sports betting in North Carolina under the legislation.
The remaining annual tax revenue generated by sports betting statewide would be distributed as follows:
- $1 million to the North Carolina Department of Parks and Recreation for youth sports grants of up to $10,000 for each county
- $1 million for grants of up to $5,000 through the North Carolina Outdoor Heritage Advisory County for travel assistance to county clubs and teams
- $300,000 to each of seven historically black colleges and universities to support their collegiate athletics programs
- Any remaining proceeds: 60 percent to the state general fund, 10 percent to the seven HBCU mentioned above, and 30 percent to a newly created North Carolina Major Events, Games and Attractions Fund to attract big-ticket events to the state.
The state Major Events, Games and Attractions Fund would not be reserved for sports events only. Funding could be used to attract any major event – musical, political, sports, or other types of entertainment – with input from local government and site selection committees.
Still, not all lawmakers are on board with the legislation. Rep. Deb Butler, D-New Hanover, spoke against HB 347 in committee on Tuesday, according to CBS17. She made it clear that she believes problem gambling will increase under the proposal.
“Gambling is going to exponentially increase if we go down this path,” Butler reportedly said, according to CBS17. “We are knowingly sanctioning additional abusive behavior, excessive behavior, uncontrollable behavior and heartbreaking behavior.”