North Carolina Sports-Betting Bill Begins Legislative Journey

March 22, 2023
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North Carolina’s latest effort to legalize mobile sports betting cleared its first hurdle on Tuesday, but the bill still has many more stops on its path to becoming law.

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North Carolina’s latest effort to legalize mobile sports betting cleared its first hurdle on Tuesday (March 21), but the bill still has many more stops on its path to becoming law.

House Bill 347 received a 17-10 vote out of the House Commerce Committee, the first of as many as four House committees where a bill must receive a favorable vote to proceed to the House floor.

The bill would permit between ten to 12 mobile sports-betting operators to be licensed and regulated by the North Carolina State Lottery Commission.

Operators would pay a $1m fee for a five-year license and a 14 percent tax rate on adjusted gross revenue, with full promotional play deductions through 2024 and limited deductions in 2025 and 2026 to establish the market.

In addition, land-based sports wagering facilities would be permitted in or around major professional sports facilities in the state.

The bill also includes wagering on collegiate sports, which has been among the more controversial issues when it comes to sports-betting legislation in North Carolina in recent years.

A late amendment to prohibit collegiate sports introduced on the House floor last year helped to sink that earlier bill’s chances during a frenzied floor debate where the bill failed by one single vote.

“My co-sponsors and I've taken a lot of the input from many of you about how to improve the bill, and through a very intentional process have incorporated that input into the House bill you have today,” Republican Representative Jason Saine told the committee on Tuesday.

Fifty-six members of the 120-member House are listed as co-sponsors on the bill.

The committee voted down an amendment to remove collegiate and other amateur sports wagering from the bill Tuesday, but the issue will likely resurface in future discussions.

“If you're going to do this, I don't see any reason that we should sully our beloved college sports or amateur sports in North Carolina,” said Representative John Autry, a Democrat.

Another amendment to prohibit the use of credit cards to make deposits was also voted down by the committee.

“It’s a fiction to suggest that the amount of gambling in this state or anywhere else is fixed and that we’re just shifting it from the illegitimate offshore place its currently located to a regulated and controlled place,” said Representative Deb Butler, a Democrat who pushed for the credit-card prohibition.

“We know that gambling is going to exponentially increase in North Carolina if we go down this path.”

The bill will now move to the House Finance Committee, where it could be discussed as early as Wednesday (March 22). The bill must also clear the House Judiciary committee and the Rules, Calendar and Operations of the House Committee before reaching the floor.

Companion legislation has yet to be filed in the North Carolina Senate, but the Senate did approve sports-betting legislation in August 2021 before that bill was voted down in the House last year.

HB 347 would allow betting to begin as early as January 1, 2024. North Carolina’s legislative session concludes on August 31, but bills from the 2023 session do carry over into 2024.

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