North Carolina Sports Betting Bill to Finally Get a Senate Vote

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Law enforcement stands guard outside of the state capitol building in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Logan Cyrus / AFP).

A sports betting bill in North Carolina, which had not made any progress for almost two months, will likely be discussed and possibly voted on by the entire Senate this week.

Earlier this week, the Senate Committee on Commerce and Insurance reviewed the sports betting bill and gave it a positive assessment, recommending it to the Senate Finance Committee. The Senate Finance Committee has included the bill, HB 347, in their meeting agenda for Tuesday, May 30, at 01:00 PM.

If the finance committee approves the bill, it will then be sent to the rules committee, which might also happen on the same day. If the rules committee passes the bill, it will be sent to the full Senate and could be voted on this week as well. It’s expected to hit the floor for votes on May 31 and June 1. Thus, the possibility of North Carolina sports betting becoming a reality is now stronger than ever.

Tax Provision Forces Two Votes

The members of the Senate Committee on Commerce and Insurance approved an amendment that raises the proposed tax rate from 14% to 18% of adjusted gross revenue.  Since the bill includes a tax provision, it must be voted on twice in the Senate.

Additional Changes to the North Carolina Sports Betting Bill

The committee also passed an amendment prohibiting sports betting operators from deducting promotional expenses from their revenues and another that permits pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing. This includes betting on live races, online platforms, and historical horse racing. Historical horse racing is a game similar to a slot machine, where players can bet on replays of past horse races.

Additionally, the committee approved an amendment for in-person sports betting, which allows the establishment of physical sportsbooks at “places of public accommodation.” These brick-and-mortar sportsbooks can be located on the premises of a stadium, or arena, or within a distance of one-and-a-half miles from the facility. 

These sportsbooks will only accept cash bets and are prohibited from operating eight hours before or during college sports events at the facility or nearby.

House Vote Would Be Next

If the Senate gives its approval to the bill, it will be sent back to the House of Representatives for agreement. Since the sports betting bill has undergone several amendments, it will need to be approved by the House members before it can be sent to Governor Roy Cooper (D) for his signature. “Hadn’t counted votes on the House side, but I think they’ll be well received,” Senate leader Phil Berger said.

According to Rep. Jason Saine, who is the main sponsor of the bill in the House, the Senate has consistently informed the supporters in the House about the changes they have made during the process. Supporters say North Carolina is missing out on a revenue stream that other states are benefiting from. Neighboring Tennessee and Virginia have already passed sports betting bills.

If North Carolina’s sports betting bill is approved by the Senate and signed into law by Gov. Cooper, it will be eligible to begin on Jan. 8, 2024.