Launch of Legal Online Sports Betting in NC Close to Dead for 2022

Photo by A 23rd-hour amendment would ban betting on collegiate sports in North Carolina (Photo by Michael Longo/Icon Sportswire)

On Wednesday night, the NC House of Representatives voted to approve one North Carolina sports betting bill but rejected another one, leaving the future of sports betting in the Tar Heel State in doubt.

While many observers believe the development means there’s no chance a law will pass this year, Rep. Jason Saine, a sponsor of the legislation, is holding out hope. The legislative session is scheduled to end June 30.

The House approved Senate Bill 38, which was filled with technical changes to Senate Bill 688, 51-50. About an hour later, however, it rejected SB 688 by the same margin. 

SB 38 was crafted to address some of the challenges supporters faced when lobbying others, including Gov. Roy Cooper, to support SB 688.  

SB 688 passed the Senate last year.  

Both bills had passed several House committees this week in an effort by supporters to finalize the legislation before the House adjourns later this month.

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What This Means For Sports Betting In NC

Saine, the main sponsor of the bills, is not ready to throw in the towel, per a tweet from Brian Murphy, a reporter with WRAL-TV in Raleigh.

But how the bills move forward and bring about legalized mobile sports betting to North Carolina before the June 30 target date for the session to end remains unclear.

After Senate approval last year, SB 688 remained dormant. But last week, word began to leak that a compromise was in place to address concerns from all sides, including Gov. Cooper. The changes, among other things, would bring more revenue to the state by increasing the tax on gross gaming revenue charged to sports betting operators. 

But without SB 38, observers believed SB 688 didn’t have a chance. That said, it was SB 38 that prevailed, while SB 688 failed. 

SB 38 was previously an unrelated bill.  During the House committee process this week, it was stripped of its original language and replaced with verbiage related to sports betting. As such, it has never gone before the Senate and would need to garner Senate approval to become law.  Most observers expected this only to happen if SB 688 passed the House and needed additional support. 

Heated Debate On Sports Betting Took Center Stage

The lightning speed at which the hearings took place this week surprised some lawmakers. They argued a debate on sports betting should be offered more time than a crammed session during the waning hours. 

But supporters argued the issue had been discussed and worked on behind the scenes for months. 

Opponents were successful at adding some amendments to the bills, including one that would bar all collegiate sports betting — not just betting on in-state collegiate teams.  This would have made North Carolina the only state to have legal sports wagering while totally prohibiting betting on college athletics.

“Remember that what we do here today could have a negative impact and add another black spot on our great college sports,” said state Rep. John Autry, who sponsored the amendment. 

Autry reminded colleagues about the Dixie Classic affair.  The annual basketball tournament held between the four biggest schools in the state ended 50 years ago amid a points-shaving scandal.

The Autry amendment, which Saine spoke against, passed 62-39.

College sports would be a significant source of sports betting revenue for North Carolina, a state rich with college athletics and fandom.

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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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