HB 347, a bill that would legalize mobile sports betting in North Carolina, passed through its second reading on the House floor Tuesday by a vote of 66-45. The legislation still needs to pass through a final vote on the House floor, which could come as early as Wednesday, before it heads to the Senate.
It passes the House 66-45. Another, final vote is expected tomorrow. https://t.co/aIOEf6w9cZ
— Brian Murphy (@murphsturph) March 28, 2023
While the path to becoming law still includes multiple steps, Tuesday represented a massive leap forward for the legislation. A similar bill failed on the House floor last year, but Tuesday’s vote suggests the legislature is more receptive to legalized mobile wagering in 2023.
The bill passed through the House Rules Committee on Tuesday morning before being discussed in the late afternoon on the House floor. It’s worth noting that the Senate passed a mobile wagering bill in 2021, and Gov. Roy Cooper has voiced support of expanded sports betting in North Carolina. (The state currently allows retail sports wagering at tribal casinos.)
Should the bill make it through the House, it has a good chance of becoming law.
Under the bill, up to 12 mobile sports betting operators could come to North Carolina, and some sports betting lounges would be allowed at certain stadiums and arenas. Adjusted gross revenue would be taxed at 14% and tax revenue would be split between a handful of sources, including responsible gambling measures.
Bill sponsor Rep. Jason Saine shared Tuesday that he believes mobile wagering could bring the state $60-80 million in annual tax revenue.
“Unfortunately, North Carolina is falling behind,” Saine said. “Every month that goes by, we are leaving money on the table.”
The bill, as currently written, allows for wagering on both college and professional sports. Amendments were proposed Tuesday on the House floor that would have raised the tax rate to 51% and banned wagering on college sports. Last year, the House was supportive of an amendment to prohibit betting on college sports, which would inhibit potential revenue generation.
This year, those amendments and six others failed. It’s a similar story to what occurred in multiple House committees, as restrictive amendments failed repeatedly in recent weeks.
Should the bill become law, Jan. 8, 2024 is the proposed launch date for mobile sportsbooks. That would mean sports bettors in North Carolina could wager on their phones before the next Super Bowl, as well as next year’s NCAA Tournament.
‘Prostitution, thugs’ to follow?
Despite the bill’s successful Tuesday, a handful of legislators were vocal on the House floor about their disdain for it. Many of those representatives cited moral objections to widespread sports betting.
“It’s gonna bring in other vices, prostitution, thugs,” Rep. Abe Jones said. “They’ll come in because they tend to follow the industry. They take advantage of the weak.”
It’s called the Grand Theft Auto theory, I believe.
— Mike Barber (@RTD_MikeBarber) March 28, 2023
Jones didn’t share specifics as to why he believes North Carolinians placing wagers on their phones would bring “prostitution” and “thugs” to the state.
Some legislators spoke about not wanting to add pressure to college athletes by allowing their games to be wagered on by fans, while others suggested that revenue projections aren’t worth the potential rise in problem gambling. Despite the vocal pushback, however, the bill clearly has support in the House.