While a bill that would legalize sports betting across North Carolina passed a House committee last week, odds are heavily against it passing the full General Assembly before the session ends.
The House Commerce Committee passed Senate Bill 688 by a 12-4 vote, but the sports betting legislation would have to make it through three other House committees before reaching the House floor. The bill would authorize mobile sports betting in the state, and allow the hosts of professional sports venues to set up on-site wagering. The bill sets the tax rate at 8%, one of the lowest such tax rates for sports betting in a country in which nearly half of the states now offer legal wagering.
Rep. Jason Saine, R-Lincoln County, who helped push the legislation through the Commerce Committee, told The Associated Press that “it’s got a long way to go.”
Rep. Jon Hardister, R-Guilford County, said that lawmakers can no longer ignore that sports betting is prevalent in the state. Those who can’t make it to the legal sportsbooks at the two casinos operated by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians can place bets via the black market of offshore online operators.
“We need to establish the framework, we need to derive the revenue,” Hardister said.
Ches McDowell, a lobbyist who represents several professional sports organizations in North Carolina, said during the committee hearing that the state needs to keep up with the Joneses.
“They have a better market for sports because sports betting is another line of revenue,” he said of states that have made sports betting legal.
Jordan Roberts, government affairs associate for the John Locke Foundation, told Carolina Journal the chances of S.B. 688 passing this year are diminishing.
“The bill sponsors in the House have stated that they understand there may not be the appetite in the waning hours of this session, but they still want to bring it up for discussion in committee to gauge the temperature of the House members and see where the concerns are with the bill,” he said.
But since the legislation has already gotten the OK in the Senate, Roberts said it’s likely that the bill will be one of the first pieces of legislation considered during the short 2022 session.