North Carolina Sports Betting Bill Gets Green Light From Senate Commerce & Insurance Committee, Now Heads to Finance Committee
Nearly a month after the North Carolina House of Representatives passed a piece of sports betting legislation, the Senate has finally given it its first vote. On Wednesday May 24th, the Senate Commerce and Insurance Committee voted in favor of HB 347, following several amendments from the Senate. It now heads to the Senate’s Finance Committee.
Senate Proposes Tax Increase, In-Person Options, and More
The Senate has proposed several changes to the original legislation. Perhaps the biggest change, if implemented, would be the allowance of in-person sports betting at a “place of public accommodation” (sports facilities) in North Carolina. Given the NFL’s recent rule change which now allows sports stadiums to house retail sportsbooks, this would be entirely legal.
The Senate also proposed an increase in operator tax rate from the original 14% to 18%. Note that when the bill was being discussed in the House, a tax increase was proposed, and denied. The bill needs final House approval before it can become a law, so even if the Senate does approve the tax increase, the House may not.
Other amendments include adding University of North Carolina at Charlotte, East Carolina University, and Appalachian State University to the list of collegiate athletic departments who would receive $300,000 annually from sports betting revenue, per the rule in the original bill. Pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing would also be permitted.
Those in favor of the bill point to the high volume of illegal sports betting happening in the state right now.
“This is not legalizing it,” Sen. Timothy Moffitt said in the meeting on Wednesday. “This is just recognizing that this practice exists”
“Expression of Recklessness”
There was a fair amount of pushback on the issue, specifically from religious groups in the state. Executive Director of the Christian Action League Mark Creech called the legalization of gambling in the state an “expression of recklessness.”
John Rustin, President of the North Carolina Family Policy Council, said that sports gambling would degrade the state’s “rich heritage” of collegiate and professional sports and instead, increase problem gambling.
Per the legislation, the state would allocate $2,000,000 annually to the Department of Health and Human Services for problem gambling.
Video Gaming Terminals Also Up For Discussion
HB 347 is not the only piece of active gaming legislation in the state.
Rep. Harry Warren filed HB 512 on March 28, in an effort to enact regulations surrounding video gaming terminals in the state. According to the language in the bill, passing HB 512 would control the spread of illegal gambling in the state while generating substantial revenue. According to the fiscal note, passing HB 512 could generate nearly $1 billion in state revenue by 2028.
A portion of the revenue would fund cost-free community college and increase money allocated to historically Black colleges.
The House Commerce Committee discussed the bill on May 23, but no vote was held. However, there seemed to be both support and opposition in the committee, so it could go either way.