A bill to legalize sports wagering is to clear the North Carolina House of Representatives and be sent to the Senate for final approval. The representatives approved the proposal on a 66-45 vote Tuesday less than a year after the chamber rejected to pass the measure. Still, one more House vote is needed Wednesday to send the legislation to the Senate and prospectively have retail and sports betting offered in the southern American state.

One More Vote to Clear the House:

The Senate voted for sports wagering in 2021. Also, both Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and Republican Senate leader Phil Berger now support sports wagering legislation. Therefore the pro-gambling forces expect that the bill will surely be passed if it passes the House, which saw a conflict of blistering arguments between proponents and opponents of the legislation last June. A different version of the House revised the proposal at the time to finally turn back the Senate measure on a 51-5o margin.

Such a version included a coalition of social conservatives and liberal Democrats last year. They opposed the proposal over concerns that the legalized retail and sports betting in the ninth-largest US state may result in problem gambling and increased cases of gambling addicts, thefts, and indebted. However, some of these are no longer in the House, while the current composition is subject to a strong lobbying activity of sports interest groups eager to take financial advantage of the sports betting legalization.

People Gamble Anyway:

As Associated Press reports, these groups have now collected around 55 sponsors within the 120-member chamber as they argue that the North Carolina citizens are using other channels and territories to gamble anyway. People use the services of underground or online sportsbooks or cross the border to gamble in Tennessee or Virginia. “Sports betting is a form of entertainment, something that consenting adults with their own money should have the right to do,” said Rep. Jason Saine, a Lincoln County Republican and lead sponsor during the floor debate.

Saine added: “It is already happening, and ignoring the issue only makes it worse as other states around us continue to legalize it. The immoral thing is to let the illegal market continue.”

North Carolina Lottery Commission to Govern Licenses:

According to American Gaming Association cited by Associated Press, there are currently 24 states that allow mobile or online sports betting. In North Carolina, gambling is currently allowed only in tribal casinos run by Cherokee or Catawba Indians. As the state is home to the Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Hornets, NASCAR, and other events, sports wagering operators thrive for the licenses. These have been proposed by the measure to be governed by the North Carolina Lottery Commission, which would issue 10 to 12 sports betting licenses.

The licenses would be subject to in-depth reviews and $1 million application fees to be in line with another legislation that will allow people over the age of 21 to place in-person bets starting from January 8, 2024.  Wagering on high school and youth sports will be prohibited, as well as horse racing bets, and prospective bets placed by athletes involved in sports subjected to wagering. The measure will also involve the opportunity for individuals to bar themselves from gambling to support them overcome the gambling problem.

Gambling Impact:

Bill opponents said the restrictions will not eliminate underground gambling and its impact. Rep. Jay Adams, a Catawba County Republican, said: “Your vote on this bill is your legacy. It’s your wager on whether this will accomplish what the bill sponsors say it will accomplish, or it will result in the information that you can see all around you about the impacts of gambling.”

As for the financial input, the state would benefit from the impact of a 14% tax on the gross generated revenue of the gambling industry. The promotions offered by operators to new players would reduce revenue levels until 2027 but the cautious state policy will use this period to assess the impact of the gambling industry on its social and financial output. Therefore the state expects to generate around $20 million in net gambling tax revenue in 2024-25 to double the figure in the subsequent three years to as much as $80 million a year.

The proposal went to the House floor for debate and vote Tuesday after clearing four House committees. The final House vote is expected Wednesday to clear the House and head to Senate to legalize sports betting in North Carolina.