Lawmakers File Bill Calling for Legal Sports Betting in North Carolina

  • Sports betting bill filed in North Carolina state senate
  • If the bill passes, sports betting could come online in the state as soon as October
  • Experts estimate legalized sports betting could generate around $50 million in annual revenue for the state

Sports betting is all the rage in the United States these days. 25 states have voted to legalize sports betting since the US Supreme Court struck down PASPA in May of 2018. North Carolina is one of the states that hasn’t yet done so, but could that change in the near future?

A group of lawmakers certainly hope so. On Wednesday, a band of North Carolina state senators filed a bill that would legalize sports betting in the state. The bill calls for the state to use the revenue generated by sports betting to help fund education and school construction.

There are two tribal casinos currently accepting legal sports wagers in North Carolina, but SB 688 would make it legal statewide. About 30 percent of the state’s lottery revenue goes to education every year. Lawmakers and industry experts estimate that legalized mobile sports betting would generate upwards of $50 million in yearly revenue.

Potential Boost to Education Budget

The proposed bill would allow for a maximum of 12 licensed sportsbooks to operate in the state for online and mobile wagering. The state’s aforementioned land-based casinos would also receive sports betting licenses if they want them. Senator Jim Perry, one of the primary sponsors of SB 688, says the measure could help stabilize an economy that has struggled as a result of the pandemic.

After the bill was introduced, Sen. Perry said, “I’m in a poor area. I have two Tier 1 counties and while I’m thankful for the money available through the lottery – they’ll let you forgo five years of your lottery funds to get some advance money, so to speak, to help with your schools – but that’s still not enough.”

Funds from the lottery currently go toward helping limit class sizes in early grade school, school construction, and scholarships for underprivileged college students. Adding the revenue generated by legal sports betting would help North Carolina cover a larger swath of the state’s education budget.

If this exact bill passes, North Carolinians will be able to wager on pro, college, and amateur sports through online or mobile sports betting platforms. The North Carolina Education Lottery Commission would be in charge of whatever other events may get the green light from a sports betting perspective. DraftKings and FanDuel operate their daily fantasy sports platforms in the state, and it’s fair to assume that both operators will have major interest in opening their sports betting platforms once it becomes legal, as well.

Tennessee and Virginia are two neighboring states that already offer legal sports betting options. You can only place bets via mobile device in Tennessee, but Virginia has in-person and online options.

Details Of The Bill

North Carolina’s bill would call for an 8 percent tax on all gross gaming revenue made through sports betting platforms. 4 percent of that would go toward education measures, while the other 4 percent would go toward employment and economic development measures. The North Carolina lottery brings in about $25 million a year, and experts believe the sports betting industry would be at least twice as profitable.

Operators would be required to pay a $500,000 application fee in exchange for a license. Licenses could be renewed for $100,000 every year for in-game betting alongside a regular renewal fee of $10,000 every year. Bettors must be at least 21 years old in order to place legal bets under current state law. The new bill would make it illegal for any person or entity to take sports bets without the proper interactive sports betting operator licensing.

If SB 688 passes, it could go into effect as soon as October 1, 2021. That would line up nicely with the beginning of football season while giving the industry room to grow in advance of Super Bowl 56 next February. The North Carolina State Legislature will adjourn in July, and there is no firm timetable for when this bill will be heard on the Senate floor.

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