The path to bringing mobile legal sports betting to North Carolina is getting closer and closer to reality.
Constructed by Rep. Jason Saine, House Bill 347 was passed on the House floor by a vote of 64-45 in its third reading. The bill will now go before a Senate that has been in favor of legalizing online sports betting sites for the last two years.
North Carolina’s current legislative session runs through August 30. While there’s no timetable on when HB 347 will be heard by the Senate, it could move through quickly based on last year’s pro-gambling side of the General Assembly.
If passed by the Senate, the bill would have to be signed by Gov. Roy Cooper, who has previously been in support of legal sports betting. The bill calls for 10 to 12 licensed mobile sportsbook operators to begin taking wagers and the taxation on those bets to start on January 8, 2024.
Sports betting in North Carolina currently only allows retail wagering at tribal casinos.
On Wednesday, nine amendments added to HB 347 failed to pass, including one that wanted to limit advertising. The House also denied a proposed tax increase from the original 14% on operators’ revenue, which is expected to generate $60 to $80 million of annual revenue for the Tar Heel State.
Amendments calling for restrictions of credit/debit cards to fund sportsbook accounts and limiting sports betting to retail were also unsuccessful.
Out of the shadows
Among the selling points from Rep. Saine is one that’s worked in other states: eliminating the offshore market and bringing in a regulatory system that will be managed by the North Carolina Lottery Commission.
“Sports betting is a form of entertainment, something that consenting adults with their own money should have the right to do,” said Saine on Tuesday. “It is already happening, and ignoring the issue only makes it worse as other states around us continue to legalize it. The immoral thing is to let the illegal market continue.”
However, the bill was not met without opposition. Several representatives refuted that argument Wednesday.
“We are not going to cure or stop illegal offshore betting by legalizing gambling in North Carolina, we are just opening doors much wider,” said Rep. Maria Morey.