Sports wagering legislation began its path through the North Carolina Senate on Wednesday (May 24) with a successful committee vote following some key changes to legislation that originally cleared the House in March.
The Senate Commerce and Insurance Committee used a voice vote to advance an amended version of House Bill 347, which would legalize mobile sports betting in the state through up to 12 mobile licenses to be awarded by the North Carolina State Lottery Commission.
The committee approved several changes to the bill to make sports betting more costly for operators, including increasing the tax rate from 14 percent to 18 percent of gross revenues.
In addition, the committee struck a provision from the House legislation that would have excluded promotional play deductions from taxable revenue.
Like the original House bill, the amended legislation also allows in-person wagers to be placed at so-called places of public accommodation, such as professional sports stadiums and arenas. But unlike in the House bill, which would require all bets to be linked to an interactive account, the amended Senate version would permit cash wagers to be placed without being linked to an account at the land-based locations.
The committee’s amended bill also includes authorization of pari-mutuel wagering on horseracing, which was specifically excluded from the House version of the legislation.
“One of the things that I have found very interesting as a lawmaker, is that we often lag behind what's happening in the real world,” Republican Senator Tim Moffitt said Wednesday as he presented the bill before the committee.
“And when I looked at this issue, I found myself asking the same questions that folks probably asked in the early 1930s, during the era of prohibition. What are we going to do with our regulations when we have essentially banned something, but our folks are participating in that and ignoring the law? And that's where we are today.”
The bill will now advance to the Senate’s Finance Committee for further consideration before it reaches the Senate floor.
The Senate last considered sports-betting legislation in August 2021, when senators passed a similar bill which ultimately failed in the House in June 2022, stalling the process for another year.
This year, however, the House was able to iron out differences and secure its majority without a series of poison-pill amendments sinking the bill at the 11th hour, as was the case 12 months previously.
Sports betting is also not the only gaming issue facing the state legislature, as a separate bill that would legalize and regulate video gaming terminals is making its way through the House, with the House Commerce Committee hearing testimony on the bill Tuesday, but ultimately taking no action.
House Bill 512 would allow machines to be placed in establishments with state alcoholic beverage licenses, such as bars and restaurants.