Sports betting bill moves through first Senate committee in North Carolina

North Carolina’s sports betting bill received a favorable vote from the state’s Senate Commerce and Insurance Committee on Wednesday. The bill will now be moved to the Senate Finance Committee for discussion and vote.

The state’s House of Representatives approved the sports wagering bill in late March by a 64-45 vote before it ended up in the Senate committee this week. The lead sponsor of the bill is Rep. Jason Saine (R-97).

Members of the Senate Commerce and Insurance Committee discussed the bill during a brief session on Wednesday and moved the bill forward with a few amendments.

Pari-Mutuel Wagering Also On The Table

Senator Jim Perry introduced an amendment that would legalize pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing in North Carolina. That amendment was approved, along with an increase in the tax rate on betting revenue from 14% to 18%.

“The bill itself is a good bill,” Sen. Timothy Moffitt (R-48) told committee members Wednesday. Moffitt went on to explain how over 35 states have adopted some version of a sports wagering practice within their state, as well as the District of Columbia.

“So, the bill before you is very similar to what the Senate had taken up last year,” Moffitt said. The House introduced a sports betting bill in 2022 that was voted down during its second reading.

“I think many of you would recognize and agree that this process for this bill, this session, has been a lot better,” Rep. Zack Hawkins (D-31) told House members in March.

“Betting on sports in our state is occurring,” Moffitt told the committee. “But in order for us to regulate it, in order for us to tax it and provide a public benefit from those taxes, we have to authorize it first. So, this is not legalizing it in as much as it’s taking place. This is just recognizing that this practice exists. It has existed since the beginning of time. It’s increasing with access to smartphones and technology and in order for us to actually regulate it and manage it in our state, this is what this bill does. It puts us in a position to whereby authorize the practice.”

Bill Faces Strong Opposition

During public comments, committee members heard strong opposition to the sports wagering bill.

“With the passage of this bill, gambling will become the centerpiece of sports competition in North Carolina instead of the games themselves,” said John Rustin, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “North Carolina should seek ways to make our citizens winners instead of losers.”

“All the money in the world we might gain from this bill, even with what regulation it provides, can never replace the virtues that will be diminished because of its legalization,” said Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of Christian Action Legal of North Carolina.

Following public comments, the committee provided a favorable vote that will now move the revised bill to the Senate Finance Committee.

Political Editor

Keith Stein is a freelance journalist based in Virginia. He has experience in freelance writing, full-time journalism and supporting monthly and weekly news publications. He has also worked as a contributing writer with United Press International.