North Carolina Legislators Say State Could See Online Betting by Football Season

  • The state’s new legislative session started on Wednesday
  • Supporters of SB688 are optimistic about it getting passed by the House during the new session
  • Only a limited form of retail sports betting is available in North Carolina at the moment
  • The state’s three professional sports teams currently support legalizing betting
Carolina Panthers statue
North Carolina could have legal online sports betting during football season if SB688 gets approval. [Image:]

Optimistic lawmakers

Legal sports betting could be up and running in North Carolina in the near future. Lawmakers will need to approve a sports betting legalization bill during the new legislative session if sports betting is going to be able to go live during football season. The state’s short legislative session started on Wednesday and some legislators are confident that they will get it done.

Last year, Senate Bill 688 (SB688) gained passage in the Senate; those who support the bill believe that it can get sufficient support to gain approval in the House. Speaking about the prospects of legalization during the new session, Senator Paul Lowe, who sponsors SB88, said: “We just want to make sure we have drummed up the votes, and I think we have. I feel confident about it.”

if not by the first of football season, certainly by mid-season”

Representative Jason Saine is an advocate of SB688 and feels that it will pass quickly. If that is the case, Saine believes that people could be able to place legal sports wagers “if not by the first of football season, certainly by mid-season.”

Seemingly sufficient support

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has said in the past that he would support the legalization of online sports betting. A limited form of sports betting is already legal in the state; only a couple of Cherokee casinos in the far western region of North Carolina are able to accept in-person sports bets.

To date, more than half of all US states have some form of legal sports betting in place.

SB688 calls for as many as a dozen online sportsbook operators to receive licenses to accept wagers; each license would be good for five years and cost $500,000. While betting on college sports would be allowed, there would be no wagering on horse racing. The Lottery Commission would be in charge of regulating the sector, while the proposed tax rate on gross revenue is currently 8%.

Local residents seem to support legalization. A recent WRAL News poll showed that 52% of respondents believe that online gambling should become legal in the state, with 19% not being sure on the matter. While it appears that the idea of legal sports betting will get sufficient support in the House, there could be increases to both the license fee and tax rate.

Various benefits

The three major pro sports teams in North Carolina support the bill. Under the current proposal, any professional sports venue which can host at least 17,000 people would be able to open a sportsbook lounge close to the venue.

The Carolina Hurricanes, Charlotte Hornets, and the Carolina Panthers are the three major pro sports teams in the state. Charlotte Motor Speedway is also likely to be eligible for a sportsbook lounge.

If North Carolina ends up legalizing sports betting, it would allow the state to benefit through tax revenue and would also reduce the number of people engaging in black market gambling. Those who oppose the measure believe that there will be a rise in gambling addiction and have concerns about the impact on college athletics and low-income households.

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