A North Carolina state senator says he expects mobile sportsbooks to launch next summer pending legalization of statewide sports betting this year or next.
Sen. Majority Whip Jim Perry, R-Lenoir, told North Carolina sports radio host Bryan Hanks on Tuesday that mobile and online sports betting could go live by midsummer of 2022, as long as the North Carolina General Assembly legalizes it before then.
Perry is the lead co-sponsor of Senate Bill 688, which would allow North Carolina to issue 10 to 12 sports betting licenses for both mobile and online wagering as well as limited retail wagering through professional sports venues. The bill passed the state Senate 26-19 on Aug. 19 and is pending action in the House.
Although the House could take up the bill this year, Perry said a 2022 vote looks more likely. That could set the state up for a sports betting launch next June or July, he guesstimated, should the bill become law.
“That would be the earliest you would see it if the House does indeed pass it,” Perry told the Kinston, NC-based sports radio show yesterday.
North Carolina Sports Betting Bill Still Has Some Momentum
Perry’s lead co-sponsor of SB 688 is Sen. Paul Lowe, a Forsyth Democrat who has been optimistic about the bill’s chances this session.
Lowe told a local TV station in late July that he thinks a need for state revenue will push the bill forward. While North Carolina has legal retail sports betting at tribal casinos, those facilities are tax-exempt.
“We’ve got a lot of things that need revenue in our state,” Lowe said. “And one of the things people like to do is bet.”
And, while Perry said his best guess is that the House will wait to vote on the issue next year, an earlier vote is possible depending on what House leadership decides to do.
“The House will typically caucus an issue like that and determine if they have enough support to move forward,” he told Hanks. “If they move forward I would anticipate it would be fairly quickly, or they could choose to press pause and wait until the short session early next year.”
Any House vote on sports betting is expected to have some opposition. But Perry stands by the bill, which he says means extra revenue for public schools in cash-strapped rural districts.
“We’re facing population loss in our rural areas,” Perry told Hanks. “We have fewer and fewer people to pay the bill, and yet we still have schools to build. We still have children to educate. So if we don’t find alternative means of revenue, that means property taxes will go up — absent something changing.”
Next Steps For North Carolina Sports Betting
A House vote on SB 688 could come soon if that chamber does decide to take up the issue this year.
The North Carolina General Assembly is trying to wrap up several loose ends this month with sports betting among them. Perry, of course, isn’t optimistic that the issue will be resolved that quickly.
That’s frustrating to sports fans outside of the Capitol building who want action on the bill. One of them is sports radio host Adam Gold of “The Adam Gold Show” on 99.9 The Fan in Raleigh, who talked about the sports betting delay on his August 20 show.
“I’ve been saying this for many, many, many years — there is no reason why it’s legal to bet in Nevada and it’s not legal to bet in North Carolina,” said Gold. “People have been wagering on sports illegally forever. Let’s bring this on board. Let’s tax it. It’s a business like any other business.”