Nearly two months after passing in the House, North Carolina sports betting legislation is on the move through the Senate.
The Senate Commerce and Insurance Committee amended and favorably reported its substitute for HB 347 on Wednesday.
North Carolina sports betting legislation moves on to the Senate Finance Committee, which will hear the bill next week.
NC sports betting changes made in committee
As previously reported by PlayUSA ahead of the committee, Sen. Jim Perry offered an amendment to increase the tax rate, eliminate deductions on promotional credits and add parimutuel wagering on horse racing.
Details of the North Carolina sports betting bill, as approved by the committee, include:
- Allows for 10-to-12 online sportsbook operators along with retail sportsbooks in or around North Carolina professional sports venues.
- Appoints the North Carolina State Lottery Commission to oversee sports betting.
- Guarantees interactive sports betting licenses to federally recognized North Carolina Indian tribes. These licenses don’t count toward the cap of 12 awarded by the commission.
- Prohibits operators from taking online sports wagers originating from tribal lands.
- Charges $1 million every five years for an interactive sports wagering license.
- Service providers pay $50,000 for a five-year license and suppliers pay $30,000.
- Taxes sports betting operators at 18%.
- Creates an advanced deposit wagering license for horse betting with a fee of $20,000. Each ADW licensee pays an annual 1% tax on total parimutuel wagers.
- Mandates operators use official league data for in-play wagers.
Sen. Tim Moffitt presented the bill to his colleagues on the committee.
Moffitt drew a parallel to the end of prohibition, with the state looking to regulate an activity that people already are doing.
“This is just recognizing that this practice exists, it has existed since the beginning of time, it’s increasing with access to smartphones and technology. … At the end of the day, this really speaks to us catching up to where we are, recognizing it, regulating it and then taxing it for public benefit.”
Sen. Michael Garrett asked how the 18% tax will get around North Carolina rules limiting income tax to 7%. In 2018, the North Carolina General Assembly proposed amending the state constitution to cap the state income tax at 7%. Voters approved.
The sports betting bill refers to the tax on sportsbook operators as a privilege tax. The tax issue surely will be discussed further in the Finance Committee.
Religious leaders oppose NC sports betting legalization
John Rustin, president of the North Carolina Policy Council, contended that research demonstrates the more forms of gambling are legalized and advertised, the more citizens gamble. And that leads to more issues of problem gambling.
“If passed, HB 347 would impose a massive expansion of legalized gambling in North Carolina as it would legalize state-sanctioned sports gambling on every computer, tablet and mobile phone in our state. It would also flood our state, and especially our children and young adults, with ceaseless advertisements and promotions for gaming on amateur, electronic, collegiate and professional sporting events … and parimutuel wagering on horse racing as well.”
Matt Floyd of the People’s Baptist Church said that as a pastor of three churches, he’s seen marriages and families ruined by gambling.
“The worst was in a town that had a casino in it,” Floyd said. “But with this bill, you’re proposing to not just have a casino in their town but to have one in their living room.”
Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, said sanctioning gambling establishes luck and chance as a new set of values.
“When the government sanctions a policy that works to shape a society of nonchalance, recklessness, callousness, thoughtlessness, by undermining sacrifice, responsibility, exertion, perseverance and toil, we are writing a bitter future for the generations that follow us.
“All the money in the world that we might gain from this bill, even whatever regulation it provides, can never replace the virtues that will be diminished because of its legalization.”
North Carolina lawmakers have heard these arguments on gaming bills from these religious groups before.
When they concluded, without comment, the committee quickly motioned to advance the bill.