A bill that would legalize online sports betting in North Carolina has moved through the Senate and has now advanced to the House of Representatives. Senate Bill 688 was first introduced at the beginning of April, but it didn’t have any action until the beginning of August.
SB 688 has gone through several committee hearings over the last few days, and it also went through a handful of readings in front of the whole Senate. On Thursday, the Senate approved the bill by a vote of 26-19.
Governor Roy Cooper has been in favor of legalizing sports betting for quite some time, and he is hoping to launch the industry on January 1, 2022. The House will need to make a quick decision if it will leave enough time for everything to be put in place for that launch date.
The goal of legalizing sports betting in North Carolina is to find a new revenue source but also to eliminate the threat of illegal sports betting. As the United States has continued to see massive growth in this industry, North Carolina is looking to keep up with other states.
Details of SB 688
If SB 688 is approved by the House of Representatives, then the state would authorize between 10-12 online sports betting operators. The initial cost of a sports betting license is set at $500,000, and there would be a $100,000 renewal fee.
A tax rate of 8% has been set for the total sports betting revenue, and professional sports teams in the state would be allowed to apply for a sports betting license as well. The language in this bill would make North Carolina a competitive sports betting market.
Bill Would Expand Options
North Carolina already has legal sports betting options in the state, but only in retail form at two specific locations. Online betting has clearly become the most popular way to bet on sports in the United States, and that is why North Carolina is hoping to allow this option.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and Governor Roy Cooper were able to sign an amended gaming compact that included retail sports betting. All of this wagering must be done at the two Harrah’s Casinos that are owned and operated by the tribe in the Western portion of the state.
Opponents Won’t Back Down
While it seems clear that a majority of residents in the state of North Carolina support the legalization of online sports betting, there are still some groups that are working to keep this bill from passing. Religious and family groups are arguing that sports betting could lead to other forms of crime, and this is an argument that has been heard throughout the United States.
Representatives from the Christian Action League of North Carolina and the North Carolina Family Policy Council both spoke during committee hearings, but it wasn’t enough to sway the Senate vote. These objections will be heard in front of the House of Representatives as well but likely won’t have any real impact on the final vote.