HB 347 passed through the Senate Commerce and Insurance Committee on Wednesday with a few amendments, sending it to the Senate Finance Committee for potential consideration next Tuesday. Sen. Phil Berger told WRAL the bill is expected to head to the Senate floor for votes Wednesday and Thursday. The projected timeline paves the way for North Carolina to legalize mobile sports wagering in June.
North Carolina, which currently allows only retail sports wagering at tribal casinos, would have up to 12 mobile operators under the bill, with a Senate amendment taxing their adjusted gross revenue at 18% instead of the 14% in the House-approved version. The new version of the bill does not allow operators to deduct promotional play from taxable revenue.
Additionally, recent amendments allow for parimutuel wagering on horse racing, as well as the opportunity for historical horse racing and live horse racing if there’s a track built in North Carolina. The bill that passed through the House in late March did not include horse-racing language.
Potential legalization timeline
Discussions on the Senate floor could be extensive, especially with legislators adding numerous amendments to the bill this week. The inclusion of college sports wagering was previously widely discussed in House committees, and recent controversies across the industry may only add to those debates in the Senate.
Other topics, like the recently increased tax rate and proposed tax revenue allocation, may stir debate as well. Several amendments have been proposed across House and Senate committees this session relating to revenue allocation.
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Should HB 347 survive Senate debates, it would then need to return to the House for concurrence on changes such as the horse-racing language and 18% tax rate. Berger also told WRAL more amendments are coming next week, adding he’s optimistic the changes will be well-received in the House.
Gov. Roy Cooper is a proponent of mobile sports betting, and he’s expected to sign the bill into law if both chambers can agree on language.
If the bill becomes law, the suggested start date for mobile sports betting is Jan. 8, 2024. If enacted in early June, it gives the state lottery, which would be North Carolina’s sports betting regulator, about six months to hire any necessary additional staff, draft regulations, and award licenses.