Legislation to legalize and regulate sports betting in North Carolina reemerged in the House last Thursday. The NC House Commerce Committee passed SB 688, and the bill will now be moving on to the House Judiciary Committee.
According to bill supporters, the legislation will legalize betting that is already occurring in the state via offshore online websites and local bookies. About 2 million North Carolinians are betting illegally, according to legislation supporters. If passed, the bill would control these operations through licensing, regulation and taxation.
“This is something that we can’t ignore. It’s already here,” said Rep. Jon Hardister, a Guilford County Republican, reports the Associated Press. “We need to establish the framework, we need to derive the revenue.” Hardister helped shepherd the Senate measure in a 12-4 vote.
The legislation, which the Senate approved in August with bipartisan support, must still go through three other House committees before it could reach the House floor, including the previously mentioned House Judiciary Committee.
In its path to the House, SB 688 faced a series of issues that delayed the process. Now the House is focused on redistricting: if the chamber is unable to push the bill through prior to wrapping up the redistricting process, it will more likely be picked back up next year.
“It’s got a long way to go,” said Rep. Jason Saine, a Lincoln County Republican. He further added there was no strategy to rush the measure through in the waning days of this year’s legislative session.
The legislation, introduced by Senators Jim Perry and Paul Lowe in April, would see the creation of 10 to 12 mobile sports betting licenses along with supplier licenses for these operators, with an 8% tax on sports betting revenue.
Moreover, it would allow professional sports organizations in the state to set up lounges for betting within or near sports arenas. College, professional and some amateur sports could be wagered on, and licensees would be allowed to also set up online apps.
Half of the tax proceeds would go to a special fund to attract sporting events and attractions to the state. According to a legislative analysis of a previous version of the bill, combined annual revenue collected could reach $24 million, further reports Associated Press.
Residents in the state already can bet at retail sportsbooks in tribal casinos thanks to 2019 legislation. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians opened on-site betting operations this year in Caesars Sportsbooks located at its two Harrah’s casinos.