Next week, lawmakers of North Carolina are set to take into consideration two pieces of legislation seeking to make online sports betting legal in the state.
The two bills are intended to pass the state Legislature together. The first one – Senate Bill 688 – passed a divided state Senate in 2021 and was waiting for the House to act throughout the current legislative session. On June 21st, the bill will be heard by the House Judiciary Committee along with another piece of legislation – Senate Bill 38 – that is unrelated to it but is set to be amended so that it becomes an appropriate accompanying sports betting measure. This was confirmed by the bill’s House sponsor, Representative Jason Saine.
The new piece of legislation would bring significant changes to Senate Bill 688, as it would boost fees and tax rates that sportsbook operators in North Carolina are required to pay. The price of the 5-year license allowing companies to offer sports betting in the state grew from $500,000 to $1 million, while a renewal license will cost not $100,000 but $1 million. The fees on service provider licenses were increased from $25,000 to $50,000.
The new bill will also change the way sportsbook companies’ tax bills are calculated, as its sponsor seeks to raise the operators’ tax rate from 8% in the original bill to 14%.
As previously reported by the CasinoGamesPro, the original piece of legislation was aimed at bringing North Carolina between $8 million and $24 million in annual sports betting tax revenue.
Hearing of the Two Sports Betting Measures Scheduled for June 21st
On June 16th, a preliminary version of the new bill was sent to local stakeholders. Under the provisions of this version, no horse race betting will be allowed, and reportedly, that will be added to the bill before its June 21st hearing.
Furthermore, the second piece of legislation is expected to expand the definition of a sports facility that is permitted to feature on-premise sports lounges. Under the provisions of the bill, facilities with at least 17,000 seats that host NASCAR races, as well as facilities hosting professional golf tournaments with more than 50,000 live spectators, as well as facilities that are the home locations of teams in the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Hockey League (NHL), the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), and Major League Soccer (MLS), will be among the ones that will be permitted to do so.
The second bill would have to return to the Senate for a final vote. The current legislative session, however, is expected to close by the end of June. According to Representative Said Saine, it is possible for legal sports betting to become available in the state of North Carolina sometime in the fall, probably after October. He further noted that, in his opinion, local lawmakers should do everything to make sure the state would not lose this revenue.
Revenue distribution will also be modified under the second bill. The Department of Revenue will get up to $500,000 of sports betting tax revenue. When it comes to the remaining net tax proceeds, half of them will be distributed to the newly-created North Carolina Major Events, Games and Attractions Fund. The Department of Health and Human Services for problem gambling and education programs will receive $1 million from the remaining 50% of the net tax proceeds, while 5% will go to the North Carolina State Lottery Commission. The remainder is set to be brought to the General Fund.