North Carolina Sports Betting Bills Advance Through Committees, Move on to Full House

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Betting on college sports is permitted under current North Carolina legislation (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Two bills legalizing mobile sports betting in North Carolina have quickly passed three House committees in the last 24 hours and are set up for full House consideration as early as later today.  

But don’t get your bets ready just yet, the legislation still faces uncertainty and a ticking clock.

Senate Bill 688, which passed the Senate last year, was approved by the House Judiciary 1 Committee on Tuesday, the House Finance Committee this morning, and the House Rules Committee this afternoon.  

Senate Bill 38, a previously unrelated measure, likewise passed out of all three committees at the same times. The original language in the bill was scrapped and replaced with concerns lawmakers had about SB 688.  

SB 688 needs to pass the entire House by June 30, having already cleared the Senate.

SB 38 needs to pass both chambers.

Gov. Roy Cooper said earlier this year he supports sports betting and is likely to sign the legislation. 

Differences Between Sports Betting Bills

SB 688 and SB 38 have several key differences. 

The tax rate on gross gaming revenues in SB 688 is 8%, while the tax rate in SB 38 is 14%. 

The fee for a mobile license also increases. In SB 688, it’s $500,000 for five years with a renewal fee of $500,000. In SB 38, it’s $1 million for five years, with a $1 million renewal fee. 

Wagering on professional sports, college sports, out-of-state horse racing, and esports is allowed under the legislation, despite opposition to collegiate sports betting from Rep. Pricey Harrison. Betting on amateur sports, like the Olympics, would not be allowed.

Harrison was successful with her amendment to increase funding for problem gambling from $1 million to $2 million.  But she was unable to offer amendments barring the use of credit cards for wagers and gambling on collegiate sports. 

The legislation also allows for sports betting lounges within professional sports facilities with 17,000-plus capacities, such as the Panthers’ Bank of America Stadium, Hornets’ Spectrum Center, and Charlotte Motor Speedway in Charlotte, and the Hurricanes’  PNC Arena in Raleigh.

Next Steps For Sports Betting

The bills now include a start date of no earlier than Jan. 1, 2023, should they be approved. 

There is still opposition to gambling in North Carolina because of social concerns. 

Republicans hold the majority in both chambers, and the Associated Press reported the GOP brought in additional members to the Judiciary Committee to replace those who were absent to ensure the legislation passed.

Steve Brubaker, an Illinois lobbyist and mobile sports betting analyst, said it is anyone’s guess what happens next. 

The big picture is [SB 38] and the bill 688 both got out of committee by safe margins. But both still have to get through two more committees before they hit the floor for a vote. If they get out, 688 goes to the Governor and 38 got to the senate for concurrence to the House amendments,” he said in a text message to Gaming Today

“They may refuse, killing the trailer (SB 38) and 688 could become law without those tax changes. Would make for some very angry house leaders. But it could happen…This trailer nonsense has never smelled right.  There is absolutely no need for it. And it is not the customary process.”

About the Author

Mary M. Shaffrey

Mary Shaffrey 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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