North Carolina Likely to Legalize Sports Betting

North Carolina would be the fifth-largest state with mobile sportsbooks, as the lawmakers have declared that they have enough votes to legalize online betting. State officials believe there’s ample support to move the gaming effort across the finish line in 2022. This motion could be passed before the legislature adjourns on June 30, just in time for the autumn’s football season.

The legislative session this year, convened on May 18, is a short one. The bill in question, Senate Bill 688, passed the state senate with bi-partisan support last year. However, the legislation stalled in the House, as lower chamber lawmakers raised concerns over the potential negative societal impact that gambling might bring to the Tar Heel State.

Backers claim they now have the support needed to get the bill through the house. Governor Roy Cooper is already on record as saying that he would sign the bill into law.  

In an interview with WRAL News, bill sponsor Democrat State Senator Paul Lowe said, “We just want to make sure we have drummed up the votes, and I think we have. I feel confident about it.” 

From the other side of the aisle, Republican Representative Jason Saine said, “We’re ready to rock’n’roll. I’ve not heard any new opposition. I think we have a pretty smooth glide pack once we do kind of start rolling into session.” 

While sports betting has grown tremendously over the last four years since the Supreme Court overturned PASPA, the Southeast has lagged slightly behind the rest of the country. While this is likely due to deep-seated cultural prejudices, there is evidence that the tide is slowly turning.  

Although sports betting has already been legal in North Carolina, not many people can do it — it’s currently limited to in-person wagers at two tribal casinos near the Tennessee border, which are about a three-hour drive from Charlotte. But with this bill finding its way, it will be a great victory for betting and its enthusiastic sports fan.

There are no public figures on how much retail sports betting has made North Carolina, but a fiscal note in 2021 projected it would generate around $5 million per year. Online sports betting generated around $10 million in Michigan last year, which is roughly the same population size as North Carolina.

A sports betting expansion could also open the door for the state’s big time sports schools — Duke and North Carolina — to get in on the business. The legislation under consideration already has the backing of the NBA, MLB and PGA.

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