North Carolina Mobile Betting Bill Starts Journey Through House

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A bill to legalize mobile sports betting in North Carolina passed through the state’s House Committee on Commerce on Tuesday afternoon. The bill still has multiple committee stops remaining before possibly being discussed on the House floor. 

A similar bill narrowly failed on the House floor last year. Bill sponsor Rep. Jason Saine hopes 2023 will be different, as he aims to bring mobile wagering to a state that currently allows retail sports betting at tribal casinos. 

“We have tried to carefully craft a bill that takes in a lot of the opinions expressed last year, and of course this year as we started the session,” Saine said. 

The bill wasn’t without detractors Tuesday, though. Rep. Deb Butler was outspoken against bringing mobile sports wagering to North Carolina. Butler believes mobile betting will lead to a noteworthy rise in problem gambling issues in the state.

“We are knowingly sanctioning additional abusive behavior, excessive behavior, uncontrollable behavior, and heartbreaking behavior,” Butler said. 

Despite the scrutiny, the bill passed through the committee by a vote of 17-10. 

Bill details

HB 347, which was filed on March 13, would allow for up to 12 mobile sports betting licenses. Each license would cost $1 million for five years. Under the bill, adjusted gross wagering would be taxed at 14%, and the North Carolina State Lottery Commision would regulate sports betting. 

Federally recognized tribes could offer mobile betting, and licenses for the tribes wouldn’t count toward the 12 allowed under the bill. Sports arenas and stadiums in North Carolina could have sports betting lounges within a half mile of the facility. 

Wagering on college sports is allowed under the bill, as an amendment to ban betting on college sports failed in Tuesday’s committee hearing. Debates about allowing betting on college sports played a role in last year’s failed legislative effort, and it figures to be a key discussion point in the House yet again in 2023.

An amendment to prohibit depositing funds in a betting account with a credit card also failed Tuesday. Butler proposed that failed amendment. 

Next steps 

The bill now heads to the House Finance Committee before a stop in the House Judiciary I Committee. It appears as if both committees plan to adjust the bill Wednesday, with the House Judiciary I Committee putting the bill on its proposed meeting agenda for Wednesday afternoon.

From there, HB 347 would head to the House Rules Committee. A vote on the House floor could soon follow.

North Carolina’s crossover deadline is May 4, and the legislative session concludes at the end of August. There’s plenty of time for the House and Senate to discuss the bill ahead of the legislative session’s end, although some stakeholders certainly hope the legislation moves quickly to ensure a rapid launch of mobile sportsbooks.

Currently, the bill lists Jan. 1, 2024, as a proposed launch date for legal mobile betting platforms.


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