North Carolina online sports betting bill moves to Senate after House approval

A bill to allow online/mobile sports betting in North Carolina was passed on Wednesday by the state’s House of Representatives. Members voted 64-45 to pass bill HB 347 after strong debate and opposition fighting off 17 amendments to the bill.

Wednesday was the third reading of the bill sponsored by Rep. Jason Saine (R-97). The bill will now be moved to the state Senate for approval.

Sports Betting in the United States

Since 2018, 36 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have approved sports betting in some form, either in-person betting at a sportsbook facility or online through a computer or cell phone app.

“Unfortunately, North Carolina is falling behind,” Rep. Saine told members of the House on Tuesday during the bill’s second reading and vote. “Every month that goes by, we are leaving money on the table. New Jersey, which has the same population as North Carolina, raised over $100 million in tax revenue from sports betting last year. Tennessee generated $68 million in tax revenue last year. At 14% tax, North Carolina could generate $60 million to $80 million. Sports betting creates jobs and at the end of the day, these are technology companies that provide high-paying jobs that we want in North Carolina.”

Members of the House opposing the bill highlighted the moral and economic impact of sports betting on the public

“If we can harness gambling, we might be able to generate $100 million in revenue for the state,” Rep. Jay Adams (R-96) said. “A $100 million won’t pay for an interchange on an interstate. Is it worth it? This bill is gonna hurt our state.”

“I have not heard one positive aspect of the gambling activity itself,” Rep. Marcia Morey (D-30) said on Wednesday just before the final House vote. “I have not heard one person say, ‘Oh it’s a thrill, it’s an enjoyment, it brings our family together!’ Not one good aspect of this other than money and greed. Is that the way we want to go?”

North Carolina No Stranger to Gambling

The Tar Heel state isn’t new to gambling. The state runs a lottery and has three tribal-run casinos that provide sports betting and horse wagering already. HB 347 is an act to legalize online sports wagering on professional and college sports.

Rep. Saine explained how North Carolina residents were currently relying on illegal offshore sportsbooks to place bets on sports and how it would benefit the state to legalize it.

“The revenue from this bill will go to supporting universities that desperately need funding for their athletic programs,” Saine said. “If we don’t allow regulated college betting, we just push that activity into the shadows where there is potential for corruption. Bookies and offshore sportsbook don’t keep records, and they don’t comply with law enforcement investigations.”

Saine continued, “We also lose revenue. College basketball and college football are two of the biggest spectator sports in the state. If people can’t bet on them, the state will lose between $20 million to $40 million in tax revenue. People who want to bet on college are just going to stick with their illegal bookie or drive somewhere where it is legal.”

Rep. Saine Aims to Create a Legal Option to Combat Offshore Sportsbooks

Saine pointed out how residents hear about sports betting all the time on television because it’s already legal in more than half the country.

“But when North Carolina residents Google it, all they have access to are offshore illegal sportsbooks pretending to be legal. People are getting taken advantage of by these offshore operators that pretend to be legal. They don’t have consumer protections. They don’t check your age. They don’t guarantee you’ll get your money when it’s time to withdraw. They certainly don’t care about gambling addiction.”

The 2022 Sports Betting Bill vs HB 347

The House introduced a sports betting bill in 2022 that was voted down during its second reading. HB 347 passed on Wednesday after its third reading.

“Many of you participated in last terms debate on this bill, and I think many of you would recognize and agree that this process for this bill, this session, has been a lot better,” HB 347 co-sponsor Rep. Zack Hawkins (D-31) told members on Tuesday.

The bill allows for between 10 to 12 online sports betting operators in the state that will pay 14% in taxes from their adjusted gross revenue. An amendment to increase the tax rate to 51% was voted down.

If the law is approved by the Senate and continues to move forward, online sports betting could begin early next year.

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.