North Carolina’s legislative session opened on Wednesday, and the push for legal sports betting continues in 2023.
“It’s something that I believe has the support of a majority of both houses,” Senate President Pro-Tem Phil Berger said, per localtoday.com. “It’s something that I think has the support of the public at large.”
State Rep. Jason Saine, a leading supporter of North Carolina sports betting legislation last year in the House, echoed those sentiments.
“We spent a long time last session, really over the course of two years, working with all the stakeholders trying to get the changes in and getting agreement,” Saine said, via WNCT-CBS. “I think this is something that’s ready for primetime, really just shortly after we get into session.”
North Carolina’s professional sports teams are among the proponents of legalized sports betting in the state. The NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes play in Raleigh (PNC Arena). The NFL’s Panthers (Bank of America Stadium) and NBA’s Hornets (Spectrum Center) call Charlotte home.
The most recent legislation included a provision for sports betting lounges at all three host venues, along with Charlotte Motor Speedway and Quail Hollow, which annually hosts the PGA Tour’s Wells Fargo Championship.
Given the high-profile presence of professional sports in North Carolina’s most populous city, the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance is also hoping 2023 is the year for passage of sports betting legislation.
“It got tight last year,” Charlotte Regional Business Alliance 2023 Advocacy Committee Chairman Kevin McLaughlin said. “(Sports betting) is something that is important to (the Alliance) and is part of our agenda for it to bear fruit this year.”
Neighboring states including Virginia and Tennessee will continue to benefit from North Carolina’s inability to legalize sports betting. But Saine believes increased familiarity will breed success in 2023.
“More people are more familiar with it, and they’re also more familiar with the fact that we’re still losing money to other states,” he said. “So, I think that’s something that will resonate. I think we’re in a different place. We were so close last year.”
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Where did NC Sports Betting Legislation End up Last Year?
North Carolina appeared on its way to legal sports betting last year before a late dramatic turn that saw SB 688 lose by a single vote in the House, 51-50, on June 22.
The debate on the House floor centered on two key issues. Opponents of SB 688 were able to remove the provision for betting on college sports. Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford) voted against the legislation due in part to the potential for corruption in college sports.
There was also disagreement on the amount of tax revenue that North Carolina would reap from sports betting. One bi-partisan analysis estimated tax revenue at $8-24 million annually, but sponsors of the bill cited other analyses that estimated $50 million.
“I don’t want us to get all glazy-eyed thinking this is going to be a great revenue source for our state because it won’t,” Harrison said. “I think it’s a false narrative to say that this is a better thing for the state, and that it’s necessarily inevitable.”
Members of the House and Senate will reconvene on Jan. 25, when the current legislative session starts in earnest.