An online sports betting bill currently being discussed in North Carolina’s Senate was amended and advanced by a committee on Wednesday. The state is inching closer to the potential legalization of the practice after the Senate Commerce and Insurance Committee favorably referred the legislation to the Finance Committee.
The committee gave the House-approved HB 347 online sports betting bill a favorable report, but not before adding some amendments to the legislation. The bill’s tax rate has now been raised from 14% to 18%. Other amendments include the removal of promotional credit deductions from taxable GGR, and the legalization of parimutuel horse race betting.
Rep. Jason Saine’s HB347 initially passed through the House by a 64-45 vote at the end of March. Parimutuel horse racing was never included in that House-backed version, and it remains to be seen how this will impact any vote on the Senate floor.
The pari-mutuel amendment allows horse racing wagering encompassing live racing, online betting, and betting on slots-like historical horse racing. If approved by the Senate with these amendments, the House would then have to concur with the changes before the bill can be sent to Gov. Roy Cooper for his signature.
The bill will allow between 10 to 12 online sports betting operators and sportsbook lounges at NASCAR tracks, large golf courses and pro team facilities of the MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL, NHL, and NWSL franchises. It permits bets on professional sports, college sports (including in-state schools), eSports, and the Olympic games.
Under the plan, sports betting will be eligible to begin on Jan. 8, 2024. The North Carolina State Lottery Commission would oversee sports betting, and federally recognized North Carolina Indian tribes would be guaranteed interactive sports betting licenses.
Rep. Jason Saine
Additionally, athletes participating in sports that are subject to gambling would be barred from placing bets on those sports. The legislation also includes a provision allowing individuals to voluntarily exclude themselves from placing wagers, which serves as a measure to help those struggling with gambling problems.
While the proposal is largely similar to a bill in 2022 that failed in the Senate, there are hopes that some of the issues from last year could be ironed out in 2023, meaning North Carolina could join Kentucky and Vermont in legalizing sports betting this year.
Given that many opponents of state gambling are no longer representatives, many expect the bill to pass through the General Assembly. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper supports sports betting legislation, as does Republican Senate leader Phil Berger.
The bill aims to end under-the-table sports gambling activities and address gambling’s impact on society. The state is expected to collect around $20 million in net revenue in 2024-25, doubling within three years.