North Carolina is one step closer to having legal sports wagering. Yesterday morning, Senate Bill 688 was passed by the North Carolina Senate with a 26-to-19 majority. The piece of legislation now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration. If the bill gains the approval of the House, state residents would be able to place on-premise and online wagers on a variety of college, professional, amateur, and esports competitions as long as they are approved by the North Carolina Lottery Commission.
During the discussions, Senator James Perry, a Republican from Lenoir County, said he was aware the sports betting legislation was controversial but it could still generate tax revenue and funding for schools across the Tar Heel State. Senator Paul Lowe, a Democrat from Winston-Salem, backed Perry’s opinion. Senator Lowe was also confident that legal sports betting can generate more revenue for North Carolina.
State residents were already placing illegal wagers with unauthorized offshore sports, Lowe said. Legalizing and regulating the industry would enable the state to direct the additional revenue toward various social areas in need of funding.
Not all members of the Senate were as keen on approving the bill, however. According to Republican Senator Jim Burgin, the new legislation will generate little revenue. At the same time, sports betting might prove harmful to the local youth, Senator Burgin said, when explaining why he intended to vote against it.
The State Lottery Commission Will Oversee the Sports Betting Sector
The legislation gives the North Carolina Lottery Commission the remit to license, oversee, and impose taxes on legal sports betting operations in the state. Under its provisions, the Lottery Commission would grant authorization to a minimum of ten but no more than twelve interactive sports betting operations.
Each license would have a validity of five years. If approved, the legislation will also create the North Carolina Major Events, Games, and Attractions Fund, which will boost job opportunities and drive further economic growth in North Carolina.
According to forecasts from financial analysts, sports wagering profits would be between $8 million and $24 million per year. Authorized operators would pay 8% of their adjusted gross betting revenue in taxes. As much as 50% of those taxes would go toward the above-mentioned fund. The money would be used to promote major events across the Tar Heel State. The other half of the tax proceeds would be allocated to the North Carolina general fund.
Senator Perry said that over half of the general fund would be used to fund local education. This is not the first time North Caroline attempts to introduce legal sports betting. A similar bill was submitted to the House of Representatives but failed to make it out of the Committee of Commerce.
As for the current Senate Bill 688, it was met with disapproval on behalf of several people, including John Rustin from the North Carolina Family Policy Council, Mark Creech of the Christian Action League, and former Senate and House of Representatives candidate Dennis Justice. Mr. Justice previously used sports betting as a platform for his campaign.