Mobile sports betting bill filed in North Carolina House, could receive vote next week

A bill to legalize mobile sports betting in North Carolina was filed Monday in the House. The state’s market would launch on January 1 should the new bill pass, although it is worth noting a similar effort failed the past year by a single vote.

Sports betting proponents are confident they now have the votes needed to pass the bill this session. However, the bill, HB 347, is set to face opposition as many critics remain in the legislature from last year, when a similar measure failed the North Carolina House by just one vote.

“This bill is a bipartisan bill and we’ve learned a good bit from both sides about some of the tweaks that needed to happen,” said Jason Saine, a Lincoln County Republican and sponsor of the legislation, as per WRAL. “We’ve worked to accommodate those concerns, and we believe we have a bill that can do better than pass. It can get broad support from both caucuses.”

House Bill 347 was filed in the House on Monday morning. The bill’s other main sponsors are Republican Rep. John Bell, the House majority leader; and Democratic Reps. Zack Hawkins and Ashton Clemmons. The proposed measure permits betting on professional, college, electronic and Olympic sports

Bill sponsor Jason Saine

It allows for up to a dozen operators to acquire a five-year, $1 million renewable license to take bets in the state. Local tribes would be able to offer mobile sports betting as well, although the mobile apps offered by tribal operators would not count towards the 12 approved licenses per the measure.

The proposed legislation is similar to the final House version of last year’s bill. That bill underwent drastic revisions after passing the Senate, among them increases in fees and taxes for operators and changes to revenue distribution.

The push to legalize mobile sports betting in North Carolina has the backing of the state’s pro sports teams which see a profitable opportunity as the bill would allow sports lounges at their venues. Raleigh’s PNC Arena, Cary’s WakeMed Soccer Park, Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium and Spectrum Center would all be permitted to open lounges where gamblers could place bets through their online accounts.

The North Carolina State Lottery Commission would be in charge of awarding licenses and regulating the industry. Operators would be subject to a 14% privilege tax on gross wagering revenue, although they would be able to deduct bonus or promotional credits at declining rates through the end of 2026.

Tax revenue generated from operators would be earmarked for several entities around the state. This includes a total of $2 million to be distributed to the Department of Health and Human Services for gambling addiction education and treatment programs, double the current Problem Gambling Program’s $1 million budget.

The legislation further includes $1 million for the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation to award $10,000 in grants per county for youth sports equipment and facility improvements. Another $1 million would be earmarked for the state’s Outdoor Heritage Advisory Council for grants to help teams travel for competitions and to attract sporting events.

Low-funded athletic departments at seven state universities would each receive $300,000 annually, while a new fund to attract major sporting events to the state would receive 30% of the remaining tax revenue, and 60% would go to the state’s general fund.

Some of the items that opponents of legalization argued against last year are again in the new bill, reports WRAL. Opponents successfully stripped wagering on college sports last year on the House floor, but it is in the bill this year. So, too, is the ability of gamblers to fund their accounts by using a credit card, a sticking point for some critics.

FOX8 reports the state House of Representatives could vote on the bill as soon as next week, according to one of the lead sponsors of the legislation. Rep. Saine also said conservatively it’s estimated the state would generate at least $50 million per year in revenue from the market.