• Sat. Jun 10th, 2023

NC sports betting bill likely to get full Senate votes next week


May 25, 2023

The North Carolina Senate is planning to vote to legalize mobile sports wagering and, in some select locations, in-person sports betting next week, putting a timeline on legislation that has been discussed for more than two years.

The bill is expected to be in two Senate committees, finance and rules, on Tuesday and then hit the floor for votes on May 31 and June 1, Senate leader Phil Berger said. Because the legislation contains a tax, the Senate must hold two roll call votes on different days.

“They’re reasonable changes,” said Berger, a Rockingham County Republican. “I think they’re changes that make the bill better.”

The basics of the bill remain the same: If it becomes law, bettors in North Carolina could gamble on college, professional and other sports on mobile apps on their phones or other electronic devices. The start date for the legislation is January 8.

The Senate bill raised the tax rate paid by operators to 18% from 14% in the House version and it did away with any deductions for the promotions and credits used to attract new customers, changes that should result in more tax revenue for the state.

“The 18% that is in the Senate bill currently is about right,” Berger said when asked about the tax rate.

The Senate bill also allows betting on horse racing and would allow sports books at certain professional sports venues around the state to accept in-person cash bets, two features that were not in the House-passed version. More amendments are forthcoming, Berger said.

“Hadn’t counted votes on the House side, but I think they’ll be well received,” Berger said.

Rep. Jason Saine, the lead sponsor of the bill in the House, told WRAL that the Senate has kept House proponents aware of their changes throughout the process. The House would have to approve the legislation with the change or work them out with the Senate.

Berger declined to specify the exact changes still being considered. Bill sponsors indicated Wednesday that there would be more clarifying language around licenses and whether teams, venues or operators have priority in acquiring the 12 licenses available.

The Senate passed a bill to legalize sports wagering in 2021. Berger was among 26 “yes” votes in the 50-member chamber on SB 688. That legislation failed in the House in 2022 by a single vote.

WRAL state government reporter Travis Fain contributed to this report.

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