Online Sports Betting Bill Clears Another North Carolina House Committee

The latest progress made by the bill is just one of many steps before it becomes law, although it has more than 50 sponsors, which suggests strong support for the legislation.

Last Updated: Mar 23, 2023 9:02 AM ET Read Time: 2 min
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A bill that would legalize online sports betting sites in the Tar Heel State is gathering momentum, as the legislation has now cleared legislative committees on back-to-back days.

The latest version of House Bill 347 was reported favorably by the North Carolina House of Representatives’ finance committee and one of its three judiciary committees on Wednesday, which followed a similar success on Tuesday. The bill has now been referred to the rules committee.

H.B. 347 would authorize 10 to 12 operators to provide a mobile form of North Carolina sports betting. The state already has legal sports betting at three casinos but no legal online sportsbooks. 

“I will say that we do have a rich history of sports in this state,” said Rep. Jason Saine, one of H.B. 347’s primary sponsors, during the Wednesday morning meeting. “Our professional teams have all weighed in on this issue and are supportive.”

No shortage of sponsors

The latest progress made by the bill is just one of many steps before it becomes law. Still, the bill has more than 50 sponsors, and from both parties, which suggests strong support for the legislation. Gov. Roy Cooper is a supporter of mobile sports betting as well.

There is no guarantee the bill succeeds, though, and there were more attempts during the latest committee meeting to amend the legislation. Since it was during a meeting of the finance committee, those attempts were aimed at its fiscal provisions, and, in particular, how bookmakers will be taxed. 

The legislation would impose a 14% tax on operators, but it also allows them to deduct the cash value of free bets or other promotional credits they provide to players that are then recouped by the bookmaker in the form of a deposit or wager. They can do so on an unlimited basis until Jan.1, 2025, after which the deductions start being capped, beginning with a ceiling of 2.5% of gross wagering revenue during 2025.

“So it's possible we could make no money at all in year one if the platform holder decides they want to spend all of their income and pay it back into the community as hook money,” Rep. Deb Butler said during Wednesday’s finance committee meeting. “We're powerless to do anything about that.” 

Butler proposed an amendment to the bill that would strip out a provision permitting the North Carolina State Lottery Commission to borrow as much as $14 million from the state lottery fund to help implement mobile sports betting. The amendment failed.

Saine said that the promotions incentivize people already betting illegally to switch to the legal market and that advertising in general would advise those gamblers that there is a legal option. 

“I will say though, it's not money,” Saine added. “It's a credit, like a free donut coupon. So no one taxes a business on that. It's the same here.” 

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