North Carolina Mobile Betting Bill Passes Through House

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The North Carolina House of Representatives approved a bill to legalize mobile sports betting Wednesday by a vote of 64-45. The bill, HB 347, heads to the Senate. 

It was anticipated that the House would provide the largest hurdle to mobile wagering legalization, as the House shot down a mobile betting bill in 2022. Some House members were vocal in opposing the bill again this year, but it had enough support to advance to the Senate.

The Senate passed a sports betting bill in 2021, and Gov. Roy Cooper has stated his support for mobile sports betting legalization. Rep. Jason Saine, the bill sponsor, is hopeful that mobile betting will soon be on its way to North Carolina.

“The overwhelming majority of people view sports betting as a form of entertainment, and consenting adults should have the right to do so,” Saine said. 

While North Carolina’s legislative session doesn’t end until August, key stakeholders hold optimism that the Senate will move quickly to pass HB 347. The bill sets a target launch date of mobile sportsbooks on Jan. 8, 2024, which means mobile sportsbooks could go live in North Carolina a month before next year’s Super Bowl.

Bill details

Under the bill, the North Carolina Lottery would regulate sports betting. Up to 12 mobile licenses would be granted, and licenses would cost $1 million. Federally recognized tribes in the state, which currently offer retail sports betting, would be among those able to offer mobile betting. 

Wagering on college, professional, and Olympic sports is allowed under the bill.

Sports betting revenue would be taxed at 14%, and operators would initially receive promotional tax deductions, which gradually would be reduced. The deductions will be phased out by 2027 under the bill’s current language, and an amendment to remove them entirely was voted down Wednesday. 

“I think if we had an amendment where you could not win a bet or lose a bet, that may be what might please y’all, but we don’t have that, so I ask you to vote ‘no’ on this amendment,” said Rep. Jeff McNeely, a supporter of the bill.

The promotional tax deduction amendment was one of several proposed changes that failed Wednesday. One of those was an amendment aimed at removing mobile wagering entirely, instead allowing betting only at a few in-person venues.

The bill calls for distributing tax revenue to several different entities, including $2 million annually to the Department of Health and Human Services for gambling education and treatment programs. Several bill opponents cited problem gambling concerns as their reason for voting against the legislation. 

An additional $1 million would go to the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation for counties to award $10,000 grants for youth sports equipment and facility upgrades. If there isn’t enough funding for each county to receive a $10,000 grant, each county would receive some equal funding amount below $10,000. 

The bill would also allocate $300,000 annually to the athletic departments of the 10 UNC System schools that don’t have Football Bowl Subdivision programs.

Another $1 million of tax revenue would be distributed to the North Carolina Outdoor Heritage Advisory Council to award various grants. 

The remaining tax revenue would be split among the athletic departments of the 10 universities listed above (10%), the North Carolina Major Events, Games, and Attractions Fund (30%), and the state’s general fund (60%).

Next steps

While the House of Representatives has been considered the largest hurdle, HB 347 isn’t across the finish line just yet. The bill still needs to work through Senate committees and the Senate floor before it reaches Gov. Cooper’s desk.

During that time, it’s possible the bill undergoes some amendments. In the House, there were numerous attempted amendments related to the tax rate and college betting. 

If the bill becomes law in the near future, the North Carolina Lottery will likely need to hire additional staff to begin crafting regulations. It would need to work quickly on regulations and preparations to be ready for the proposed launch in early January.


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