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North Carolina takes step towards legal sports betting

Senator Tim Moffitt is championing sports betting in North Carolina

The North Carolina Senate Committee on Commerce and Insurance successfully advanced a measure to legalize mobile sports betting in the state on Wednesday.

House Bill 347, which had previously passed the House in March, underwent recent review. Sponsored by Sen. Jim Perry, the bill now progresses to the Senate Finance Committee after significant amendments were made.

The amendments include the inclusion of horse racing as a betting option and the facilitation of in-person betting. Applicants can also obtain an advance deposit wagering (ADW) license, and licensed operators will be required to pay 1% of their yearly parimutuel wagering handle to the North Carolina lottery commission.

In the earlier version of the bill, North Carolina sports betting operators were mandated to contribute 14% of their revenue, but the Senate committee increased the figure to 18%. Additionally, HB 347 was amended to prohibit gambling operators from deducting promotional play from taxable revenue.

Under the bill, the North Carolina Lottery Commission can issue up to 12 licenses for interactive sports wagering. Applicants must submit a payment of $1 million and undergo thorough background checks.

Both versions of the bill allow betting on professional, Olympic, and college athletic activities. Sports betting operators can offer their services through online or mobile apps, as well as in-person betting at specific professional automobile racing tracks, sports arenas, and stadiums.

Amendments to HB 347 also allocate “$300,000 each year from mobile sports betting revenue to Appalachian State University, East Carolina University, and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.” Notably, the Football Bowl Subdivision did not receive funds in the previous version of the bill, and revenue will not be allocated to North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina among the 14 schools.

Furthermore, the bill designates “$2 million annually from mobile wagering tax revenue to the Department of Health and Human Services for problem gambling measures.” The North Carolina Outdoor Heritage Advisory Council and the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation will each receive $1 million. The remaining sports wagering tax revenue will be allocated to the General Fund and the fund for North Carolina Major Events, Games, and Attractions.

“We want to make sure that we’re putting the right regulations in place, but we also want to be consumer-friendly. Our wagering community would like to have options to do both,” Henderson County Republican Sen. Tim Moffitt said.

Supporters of HB 347 argue that legalizing sports betting is more beneficial for the state than allowing it to continue illicitly without taxation or regulation.

“Betting on sports in our state is occurring. But in order for us to regulate it, in order for us to tax it and provide a public benefit from those taxes, we have to authorize it first,” Moffitt said.

He also mentioned that the bill is projected to generate “slightly over $40 million by mid-2028,” surpassing the estimate in the House measure.

Currently, sports betting is only legal in three gaming venues in North Carolina operated by American Indian tribes.

John Rustin from the North Carolina Family Policy Council opposed HB 347, claiming that if enacted, the bill would adversely affect the lives of “thousands of North Carolina families.”

“If this bill is enacted into law, North Carolina can expect to see tens of thousands more of our state’s citizens and their families victimized by gambling addiction,” Rustin said.

To become law, HB 347 must receive approval from other Senate committees, pass the full chamber, and undergo final review of the amendments in the House.

If the measure is approved by the House, it will be sent to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk, with a targeted launch date of January 8, 2024.

If North Carolina passes legal sports betting it would bring them in line with US states like New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Arkansas, which have all been successfully running the industry for some time.

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