North Carolina Senators File Bill to Legalize Mobile and Online Sports Betting

  • SB 688 proposes ten-12 interactive betting operators authorized by the Lottery Commission
  • The bill also calls for online sports betting licenses for North Carolina’s tribal casinos
  • Half of the suggested monthly 8% tax per licensee would go to an economic development fund
  • Citing a “reasonable projection”, Senator Perry said sports gambling could make $50m annually
  • He added that SB 688 “collects money for schools without forcing taxes on other people”
flag of North Carolina against a blue sky and clouds backdrop
Legislators introduced a bill in the North Carolina senate seeking to legalize interactive betting in the state. [Image:]

SB 688 filed Wednesday

Senators in North Carolina have filed a bipartisan bill aimed at legalizing mobile and online sports betting in the Southeastern US state. Democratic Senator Paul A. Lowe Jr., and Republican Senator Jim Perry introduced the sports wagering Senate Bill 688 (SB 688) on Wednesday morning.

Sports wagering specialist Daniel Wallach, known as ‘The Sports Betting Attorney’, took to Twitter to share some of SB 688’s highlights:

North Carolinians will be able to place bets on professional, college, amateur, and esports events approved by the North Carolina Lottery Commission if SB 688 gets the legislative green light. The bill proposes that the Commission authorize “at least 10, but not more than 12, interactive sports wagering operators to offer and accept sports wagers to and from registered players on sporting events.”

at least 10, but not more than 12, interactive sports wagering operators”

Currently, bettors in the state can only legally place sports wagers in person at two casinos owned by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI). The bill also calls for online licenses for the tribal casinos. It goes on to clarify that any tribal gaming entity considered an “interactive sports betting operator” would not count towards the maximum suggested total of 12 sports wagering licensees.

Bill has education funding in mind

The proposed interactive legal sports betting will fall under the purview of the Lottery Commission, which directs all its net proceeds to education through the North Carolina Education Lottery.

Under section 18C-920, the bill proposes that the commission collects an “8% tax on the monthly adjusted gross revenue” of each sports wagering licensee. Half of the tax revenue would go to the North Carolina Major Events, Games, and Attractions Fund to grow employment opportunities and boost economic development.

The bill proposes charging a $500,000 initial licensing fee valid for five years. Suggested renewal fees for interactive sports betting licenses and service provider licenses are $100,000 and $10,000 respectively. SB 688 also proposes allowing bettors to place wagers with cryptocurrency.

According to leading state newspaper The News & Observer, Senators Perry and Lowe were discussing how to help the state’s schools over dinner, when a third party showed them projections of how much money legal sports betting could reap for school funding.

a reasonable projection shows that sports gambling […] could bring in $50 million a year”

The newspaper reported Perry as saying that “a reasonable projection shows that sports gambling […] could bring in $50 million a year.”

Illegal gambling seen as lost tax opportunity

Legal retail sports betting only made its debut in the state on March 18, when the EBCI launched The Book facilities at its Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in Cherokee and at Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel in Murphy.

The rollout of The Book betting facilities followed a tortuous legal journey for the EBCI that began in July 2019 with the passing of Senate Bill 154. The dispute ended in December 2020, after Governor Roy Cooper signed off a required amendment to the tribe’s compact.

While there are now two legal brick-and-mortar sports betting outlets for North Carolinians, Lowe and Perry concluded that residents were still gambling illegally, adding that the state did not receive any corresponding tax benefit without SB 688.

Perry told The News & Observer: “We believe every sheriff knows who the bookies are in their county. We see this going on and we see folks avoiding income taxes on money from illegal gambling.” He added that SB 688 instead “allows adults to freely choose to gamble, and collects money for schools without forcing taxes on other people.”

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