The legalization of commercial sports betting in North Carolina is one step closer to fruition. Late last week, the state Senate approved a measure with a vote of 26-19 that would see the activity provided by 10 to 12 license holders in the state. The bill now heads to the House of Representatives to be considered further.
It was unusual that the bill was taken up because the majority of Republican members are opposed to the idea. In total, nine republicans approved the measure while 15 were opposed. The 17 democratic votes helped push the bill to the next step in the legislative process.
Makes Sense to Legalize Sports Betting
Senator Jim Perry is a lead sponsor of the sports betting measure who says it makes sense for North Carolina to legalize and regulate the industry. The process of online wagering is simple and neighboring states like Tennessee and Virginia are already taking advantage of a legalized industry.
Perry would like to see the industry allowed in the state ad use funds to help low-income school districts. The Senator sees the measure as a way to bring in alternative revenues for the state to benefit the community. A recent analysis by a nonpartisan group showed that as much as $24 million would be raised from the industry.
Currently, the measure would allow for 10 to 12 licenses to companies that will offer sports betting services. On top of fees, operators would pay an 8% tax. Perry does expect the tax rate to increase as the bill moves through the House. As it stands now, the measure would see 50% of the revenues from the new industry go towards the general fund of North Carolina while the other 50% would be set aside for major event promotion.
Whenever a state tries to legalize a new gambling activity, there is an opposition of some sort. In North Carolina, there are lawmakers that are opposed as well as groups, including the North Carolina Family Policy Council. President of the Council, John Rustin, remains outspoken about the group’s negative thoughts of the bill, stating that gambling does not need to be expanded.
According to Rustin, the group is worried about the problems that coincide with gambling. He pointed out that social issues would arise, and this could be a problem for the residents of the state. Rustin also stated that because it is a gambling bill, there is a large financial interest behind the measure.
To help with any potential social issues, an amendment was added to the bill last week. A total of $1 million was allocated towards education regarding gambling addiction and treatment service options. The Department of Health and Human Services would be in charge of using the funds.
Tribal Sports Betting Already in Play
While North Carolina lawmakers try to get commercial sports betting up and running, tribal casinos already offer services. Back in 2019, legislation was signed by Governor Roy Cooper that legalized sports betting for tribal venues.
North Carolina Senate Bill 154 allows the two tribal casinos in the state to provide such services as long as bets are placed on tribal lands. Both the casinos are operated by Caesars Entertainment and owned by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.