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North Carolina Online & Mobile Betting Bill Gains Traction in the SenateLegislators in North Carolina are taking another run at bringing online and mobile sports betting within state lines. After a failure in 2022, a new measure won House approval and is now in the Senate, where it’s received some significant amendments.
Excitement is rife in the Old North State as the state inches closer to passing an online mobile sports betting bill. The measure is currently being discussed in the North Carolina Senate after it was amended and advanced by a committee.
Senate leader Phil Berger indicated that the Senate is close to rubberstamping the online sports betting bill, which could be monumental for North Carolina. Suffice to say, it hasn’t been a smooth ride to get to this point.
North Carolina’s Mobile Sports Betting Journey So Far
The North Carolina House Bill 347 was introduced in March of this year and successfully passed through the three House committees without any qualms. A week later, the North Carolina House voted 64-15 in favor of the bill. With the House’s Seal of Approval, the bill was moved to the Senate, where it was set to undergo a similar process of deliberation and voting.
While many expected the bill to move through the Senate swiftly, that wasn’t the case. There was a one-month hold-up until recently. With the bill now passing the Committee stage in the Senate, this is the closest the state has come to passing online and mobile sports betting regulation.
Amendments Made To the Bill
The Senate Committee may have approved the online sports betting bill, but not before getting a series of amendments to mirror what the Senators thought would best fit the Tar Heel State. For starters, the bill’s tax rate ceiling has been raised from 14% to 18%. Other amendments to the bill include the removal of promotional credit deductions from taxable Gross Gaming Revenue.
The committee also introduced an amendment that includes parimutuel horse racing betting into the online sports betting scene. Parimutuel horse racing betting is the most pertinent introduction, as it will allow horse racing wagering that will include live betting, online betting, and betting on slots related to horse racing.
With the House version of the bill not including the Parimutuel section, it remains to be seen how this could impact the voting on the Senate floor. This is because the amendments essentially turn a sports betting bill into a horse betting one, a change that could draw mixed opinions.
Other Proposals In the Bill
Outside the amendments, many other elements of the bill remain as they were from the House. For instance, should the bill sail through, 10 to 12 online sports betting operators will be allowed to operate in the state. In addition, North Carolina professional sports teams and organizations will also be allowed to open three sportsbooks that will add to the already existing three in-person sportsbooks located at tribal casinos in the State.
Furthermore, the bill will permit wagering on college sports, including in-state schools, e-sports, and the Olympic games. However, while the sports betting bill permits wagering on all those sports, the athletes participating in these competitions will be barred from engaging in any sports betting activities, as it would present an integrity conundrum. Further, the aspect of responsible gambling also comes into play with this bill, with a provision set aside allowing persons to voluntarily exclude themselves from placing wagers.
Ghosts From the Past?
The current North Carolina mobile sports betting bill is similar to the 2022 measure in many ways. Thus, its fervent supporters hope this new version does not suffer the same fate as the 2022 measure.
Looking back at last year’s version, the bill started slowly in the 2022 legislative session. Then, as the clock ticked, it suddenly picked up speed and flew past three House Committees in less than 24 hours. The bill, however, painfully fell short by one vote, with representatives shooting it down on a 51-50 vote. A 59-44 reconsideration vote that would’ve sent the bill back to the Rules, Calendar, and Operations Committee also failed.
What Next For the Bill?
Now that the online mobile sports betting bill has passed through the Senate’s Commerce and Insurance Committees, it is set to be tabled on the Senate floor, where it could receive a majority or fail. However, should it be passed in the Senate, the bill will be returned to the House floor for further consideration.
Following a legislative okay, the bill must also get the thumbs up from Democratic Governor Cooper. And while Gov Cooper has previously indicated support for regulated sports betting, he still holds the power to veto such a bill.
That said, should the bill sail through all the legislative hurdles and is signed into law, early projections show North Carolina could collect about $20 million in revenue in the first year of operation. Further, data from market forecasts also indicate that the year-one revenue could be doubled in the second year of operation.
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