Two bills to legalize mobile sports betting in North Carolina cleared a House committee on Tuesday, a little more than a week before lawmakers are scheduled to go home for the year.
On identical 6-3 votes, with one legislator abstaining, the House Judiciary 1 Committee approved Senate Bills 38 and 688, which would allow mobile sports betting statewide.
SB38, a previously unrelated bill approved last year in the Senate, has been recast as a mobile sports betting measure.
The bills still have to be approved in the House Finance and House Rules, Calendar and Operations committees before going to the full House for a vote. If the bills do not clear the full 120-member House of Representatives by June 30, sports betting won’t be legalized this year in the state.
All bills, including the sports betting legislation, must be approved in the full House and Senate before going to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper for his consideration. Last August, the Senate approved mobile wagering legislation but still would have to sign off on amendments.
The amount of time needed to achieve these steps is running out. Legislators are wrapping up their work at the statehouse in Raleigh during the current even-year, short session. The session began May 18 and ends June 30.
If the legislation makes its way to the governor’s desk, he has indicated he would support expanding sports betting, citing the jobs it would create.
Mobile sports betting would become operational no earlier than Jan. 1, 2023, under the current legislation.
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Tax Set At 14%
During Tuesday’s committee hearing, SB38 was amended to apply a 14% privilege tax on gross revenue, minus some deductions. This figure is up from a previously proposed 8% tax rate.
Under the amended bill, the fee to apply for a sports betting license, and to reapply later, would be $1 million each time.
The bill also was amended to increase the money to treat gambling addiction from $1 million to $2 million. This amendment was proposed by Rep. Pricey Harrison, D-Greensboro, and was unanimously approved on a voice vote.
Harrison also proposed an amendment to prohibit bettors from wagering on amateur sports. This amendment also was approved unanimously on a voice vote.
However, in discussing SB688, Harrison noted that college sports, under that bill, apparently are not considered to be amateur sports. No amendments were allowed to SB688.
Legislative staff members noted that athletes, coaches, officials and others would not be allowed to wager on games in which they are participants. Sports betting advertising cannot target people under age 21.
Another amendment to SB38 would allow NASCAR to benefit from a special events fund that would be set aside from sports betting revenue to attract major sporting events to the state. Also, parimutuel wagering would be allowed under the amended bill.
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Wagering Legal In Tennessee, Virginia
If the mobile sports betting fails this year, North Carolina residents wanting to use a mobile app to place a legal sports bet will have to cross into the neighboring states of Tennessee and Virginia, where mobile sports wagering is legal and regulated.
The only legal sports betting in North Carolina now occurs inside two tribal casinos. North Carolina does not have commercial casinos.
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Sports Betting Has Room To Grow In South
Across the South, North Carolina is the last state this year where sports betting has a chance of being approved legislatively. Sports betting legislation was shot down this year at southern statehouses from Kentucky to Georgia.
The South remains the last large, multi-state geographic area with an opportunity for major growth in the sports betting industry.
The combined population in four large Southern states without mobile or commercial retail sports betting — Texas, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina — is about 72 million.
The population exceeds 90 million when other regional states that also don’t have legal sports betting are added. These other states are South Carolina, Alabama, Missouri and Oklahoma.
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