North Carolina Mobile Wagering Bill Progresses Through House

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HB 347, a bill that would legalize mobile sports betting in North Carolina, passed through a pair of House committees Wednesday. The legislation passed through its first House committee Tuesday and could soon receive a vote on the House floor. 

Both the House Finance and Judiciary committees passed the legislation Wednesday with minimal debate. The bill will next head to the House Rules Committee. 

Under the legislation, up to 12 mobile sports betting operators would be allowed to operate in North Carolina. The bill taxes adjusted sports wagering revenue at 14% and sends tax revenue to a variety of sources. To this end, the legislation would direct $300,000 annually to athletic departments of the state’s smaller universities, including multiple HBCUs. The bill also calls for $2 million to go to the Department of Health and Human Services for gambling education and treatment programs. 

Should the legislation pass, the hope is to bring legal mobile sports betting platforms to North Carolina in early 2024.

Finance Committee amendments fail

A few amendments to HB 347 were proposed in the House Finance Committee, but they were strongly opposed by committee members. 

A pair of legislators wanted to remove promotional tax deductions offered to sports betting operators.  That amendment failed. Currently, promotional tax deductions would be unrestricted in the first year (2024) of legal mobile betting in North Carolina before being phased out by 2027.

Rep. Tim Longest was among the legislators aiming to remove promotional deductions. Longest also proposed an amendment to raise the bill’s proposed tax rate from 14% to 51%. 

“I think that it’s only fair that the state, like in New York, like in New Hampshire, accept the majority of the proceeds through a privilege tax of 51%,” Longest said.

That amendment also failed.

“I believe that 51% would be the absolute wrong way to go,” said Rep. Jason Saine, the bill’s sponsor. 

A tax rate of 51% could have deterred major operators like BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, DraftKings, and FanDuel from entering the state’s mobile betting market. 

Judiciary Committee amendments fall short

Rep. Pricey Harrison spoke against the bill during Wednesday’s House Judiciary Committee meeting, voicing concerns related to a New York Times series on sports betting and proposing a handful of amendments as well. Each amendment failed.

Among her amendments was one that would have raised penalties from $10,000 to $1 million if operators violated the state’s gambling statutes. That amendment, which would have also mandated operators lose their licenses after three violations, was shot down. 

Harrison also tried to restrict sports betting marketing materials from appearing on college campuses and attempted to raise the licensing fee from $1 million to $10 million. Finally, Harrison tried and failed to remove amateur and Olympic sports betting from the bill.

Her proposed amendments may come up again in House floor debates.


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