North Carolina sports betting statute Senate Bill 688 passed the state’s upper legislative chamber last August by a 26-19 vote. House lawmakers say the odds are good that the lower chamber will follow suit this summer and sign off on the mobile sports betting legislation.
The North Carolina General Assembly convenes for its 2022 legislative session next Wednesday, May 18. North Carolina convenes a full 12-month regular session in odd years. In even years such as 2022, lawmakers meet only for a month and a half.
Despite the short session occurring this year, North Carolina House lawmakers are optimistic that they will move SB 688 past the finish line and finally bring legal online sports betting to the state.
I don’t think it’ll be a close vote,” an optimistic Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln) told Sports Handle recently.
Saine believes there is adequate support in the House to pass the mobile sports betting bill. Of the four states that share a border with North Carolina — Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee — only Virginia and Tennessee currently permit some form of legal sports gambling.
North Carolina lawmakers and Gov. Roy Cooper (D) amended the state’s Class III gaming compacts with its two federally recognized tribes in July of 2019 to allow tribal casinos to offer in-person sports betting.
Retail sportsbooks are operational at Harrah’s Cherokee and Harrah’s Cherokee Indian Valley. Sports betting is also expected to arrive at the Catawba Two Kings Casino Resort once the permanent facility opens next year in Kings Mountain.
North Carolina does not have any commercial casinos. Instead, SB 688, if passed into law in its current form, would create between 10 to 12 mobile sports betting licenses. The permits would be available for qualified interactive gaming platform providers like DraftKings and BetMGM. SB 688 would also qualify the tribal casinos to operate online sportsbooks.
Entities that are deemed qualified and suitable would be required to pay a one-time $500,000 licensing fee to the state. The internet sportsbooks would be subjected to an 8% tax on their gross sports betting revenue.
The tax revenue is be split between the state’s General Fund and the North Carolina Major Events, Games, and Attractions Fund. The latter fund’s goal is to attract marquee sports championships and other nationally-known events to the state.
Mobile sportsbooks would additionally be allowed to partner with certain small businesses like bars and convenience stores to place sports betting kiosks in the brick-and-mortar establishments.
Governor Expresses Support
Cooper says should SB 688 land on his desk, he will sign the sports betting measure. Cooper contends that North Carolina should reap the tax benefits of an activity that is already happening inside the state — albeit largely through unlawful and unregulated means.
It’s here whether we like it or not,” Cooper said in February. “The issue is will North Carolina be on the cutting edge for the technology jobs and other employment that it will create and be able to get state taxpayers their cut, or are we just going to let it happen all around us? I think it’s time for us to step up and do it.”
A recent poll conducted by WRAL News found that 52% of North Carolinians support legalizing online sports betting.
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