A North Carolina sports betting bill has found new life after sitting idle for more than two months in the Raleigh capital.
Senate Bill 688, an act to authorize and regulate sports wagering in North Carolina, passed the General Assembly’s upper chamber in August by a vote of 26-19. The legislation was subsequently moved to the House of Representatives for further consideration.
SB688 has largely sat idle ever since. That changed this week when the legislation was referred to the House Commerce Committee, and its members voted favorably on the statute, 12-4.
[Sports betting] is something that we can’t ignore. It’s already here,” stated state Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Guilford). “We need to establish the framework. We need to derive the revenue.”
North Carolina’s sports betting effort now moves to the Judiciary Committee.
SB688 would instruct the North Carolina Education Lottery to issue as many as 12 sports betting licenses to qualified, experienced operators. Each license would cost $500,000, with renewals costing $100,000 every five years.
The approved sportsbooks would operate almost exclusively online. That’s with exceptions being made for retail brick-and-mortar sportsbooks near professional sports stadiums and PGA Tour-sanctioned golf tournament venues. Sports betting on tribal lands is already permitted.
SB688’s current language would impose an eight percent tax on gross gaming revenue generated by the commercial sportsbooks. That’s presumably an attractive rate, as legal sportsbooks in other states face much higher tariffs. For example, in Pennsylvania, operators are taxed at an effective rate of 36 percent.
North Carolina is the ninth-most populated state in the nation, with more than 10.7 million residents. It is also home to three of the big four pro sports leagues, with the NFL Carolina Panthers, NBA Charlotte Hornets, and NHL Carolina Hurricanes all present in the state.
North Carolina is additionally a college sports-obsessed state, particularly when it comes to college basketball. Legal sports betting on the ever-lasting feud between the UNC Tar Heels and Duke Blue Devils would presumably generate considerable handle each time the Tobacco Road schools meet at Cameron Indoor Stadium or the Dean Smith Center.
Road to Legalization Long
Fiscal projections believe North Carolina could reap $24 million a year from legal, taxed sports betting. However, before SB688 can reach the House floor and receive a full vote, the legislation must gain approval from three additional House committees, beginning with the Judiciary.
It’s got a long way to go,” explained Rep. Jason Saine, (R-Lincoln), another supporter of the sports betting effort.
There are also opponents to authorizing sports betting. A collection of religious Republicans, plus at least one Democrat, opine that further gambling isn’t needed in North Carolina.
“However you characterize this, it is a wild expansion of gambling in North Carolina,” declared Rep. Deb Butler (D-New Hanover). “I think that it is clear to me that it is going to affect those who can arguably least afford it the most.”
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