North Carolina’s latest attempt at making legal sports betting in the state a reality reached the Senate floor on Wednesday for discussion and made it another step closer to law.
House Bill 347, which was introduced in March and will bring online betting sites and retail locations at sports venues, had its second reading passed by a vote of 38-11. A third vote of the bill is required to make it through the Senate, so it will be added to the Senate calendar and could be heard again as early as Thursday.
After a delay in the session, the bill was finally brought up late in the afternoon for debate. HB 347 attracted three detractors, who brought up the ill effects of gambling while asking fellow Senators to vote against the bill on Wednesday.
It wasn’t enough to keep it from moving forward. If the bill does get through a third reading, it will head back to the House for concurrence of several amendments, including an increase of the tax rate on sportsbook operator revenue from 14% to 18% as well as pari-mutuel betting on horse racing.
A new amendment
Before the vote to move past the second reading, Sen. Jim Perry added another new amendment on Wednesday that was geared toward cleaning up the language on how funds will be handled by the Lottery Commission so that there will be enough money to carry over from one year to the next for administrative fees.
There was more technical amending to taxes and licenses, and the amendment was easily adopted by a vote of 47-2.
One step closer
A bill last year nearly made it through and into law but missed by one vote. This legislative session has legal sports betting, with 12 licensed operators, on the cusp of being available to North Carolina residents.
HB 347 made it through the Finance and Rules committees on Tuesday and was added to the agenda for the entire Senate a day later, so there is some urgency to getting this done. The Senate has added other amendments that include eliminating historical horse racing, a slot-type game. The Finance Committee passed an amendment Tuesday that sports betting in North Carolina can launch no later than 12 months after the act becomes law. The date to begin the bill is set for January 8, 2024.