A North Carolina legislative committee has approved two bills that will legalize online sports gambling in the state as lawmakers look to pass legislation in the final days of the current legislative session.
Mobile sports betting could launch as early as January 1st, 2023
Sports betting in North Carolina is legal, but only at a land-based casino. There are currently only two Cherokee casinos that accept sports wagers. The Catawba tribe had previously opened a temporary sportsbook at its casino but this has since closed. Under the new legislation, both tribes would be allowed to apply for online sports betting licenses.
The House Judiciary 1 Committee approved both bills with minor amendments. Those amendments will double the amount of money paid towards problem gambling treatment to $2 million and place a restriction on wagering on amateur sports including Olympic events.
The bills must now got through two more House committees today and could be voted on by the chamber later this evening.
The bills, Senate Bill 688 and Senate Bill 38, will see online sports wagering legalized throughout the state. SB 38 proposes a 14% privilege tax on gross revenues from wagering minus winnings paid out and promotional credits also known as bonus credits. The deduction for these credits will be phased out over the first five years of legalization.
According to the legislation, gambling on professional, college, horse racing, and electronic sports (eSports) will be permitted. However, betting on Olympic events or any sporting event where the majority of competitors are under 18 will not be allowed.
While there is strong support for the bills, some lawmakers have been critical of the timeline for legalization.
Rep. Marcia Morey, a former U.S. Olympic swimmer who worked in NCAA enforcement, told WRAL News:
“I think we’re going way too fast. If we maybe took a step at looking at the big sports facilities having in-person betting. But to suddenly put it on everyone’s mobile phone, to have access to instant wagering every 10 seconds on different aspects of sports, I just think it’s a bad idea.”
Meanwhile, the Charlotte Hornets, Carolina Hurricanes and Carolina Panthers, along with Charlotte Motor Speedway, have all thrown their full support behind the bills. However, North Carolina’s colleges have yet to speak on the matter.
Under the proposed legislation, as many as 12 mobile sports betting operators can apply for a license. Initial projections estimate that the state could collect between $8 million and $24 million in taxes each year. However, these projections would rise significantly if the new tax rates laid out in SB 38 are adopted.
If passed by the chamber and signed into law, the bills could see sports betting in North Carolina launch as early as January 1st, 2023.