Online sports betting is officially coming to North Carolina in the first half of 2024.
Gov. Roy Cooper signed HB 347 on Wednesday at 11:18 a.m. at the Spectrum Center, home of the Charlotte Hornets.
“Let’s face it, sports wagering already is happening in our state,” Cooper said. “Surrounding states here and across the country are already taking advantage. … This legislation allows the state of North Carolina to regulate it and to put safeguards on it, as well as provide funding for helping people with problem gambling.”
Cooper contended the bill would provide great-paying jobs, attract capital and help the North Carolina economy grow.
“This is a historic moment for the state of North Carolina, and this will benefit our economy for generations to come,” he said.
North Carolina sports betting launch window
The bill specifies the earliest possible launch date for North Carolina sports betting as Jan. 8 and encourages regulators to get as close to that date as “practicable.” However, it gives the North Carolina Lottery Commission (NCLC) as long as a year from the bill becoming law to work out the regulations and licensure.
Cooper’s signing triggers the beginning of that one-year window, putting the North Carolina sports betting launch between Jan. 8 and June 14, 2024. It figures the NCLC will push for the earlier part of that timeframe to have statewide sports betting launched before the Super Bowl and March Madness.
“The North Carolina Lottery Commission is hard at work now beginning the process of implementation of this legislation,” Cooper said. “It is a mammoth job, but they are working very hard and look forward to additional help from everybody to make sure that this works.”
Cooper commented on the positive economic impact of sports betting on North Carolina’s professional sports entities.
“We already know that North Carolina is the center of the basketball universe. That is an unquestionable fact. But in the last few decades, our state has become a prime location for professional sports, particularly here in the Charlotte area. … It is so exciting what’s happened in North Carolina. This legislation will help these professional teams to grow even more and to thrive, and attracting more of them. We still have some holes we have to fill in this prof sporting arena.”
Lawmakers behind sports betting effort celebrate signing
Cooper, a Democrat working with a Republican-controlled legislature, pointed out how parties across the political aisle worked to pass North Carolina sports betting.
“This is truly a bipartisan accomplishment, one of many over the last few years,” Cooper said. “And this certainly will help North Carolina compete, and that is critical.”
Wearing a snazzy salmon suit, Rep. Jason Saine, the lead House sponsor, agreed with Cooper.
“We have so many opportunities to help the state with this bill,” Saine said.
Saine worked across the aisle with Rep. Zack Hawkins as a co-sponsor of the bill.
Hawkins celebrated how North Carolina will put sports betting revenue to good use across the state. This includes $1 million annually to expand opportunities in youth sports.
“The ability to bring youth sports organizations into the revenue sharing is absolutely important with NC amateur sports and expanding participation and belonging for kids. Those grants will allow kids to be a part of things that they would not have been before, and I’m so glad to be part of that effort.”
Sen. Jim Perry first filed North Carolina online sports betting legislation in the Senate in 2021. Perry worked across the aisle with Sen. Paul Lowe. Although Perry couldn’t make the press conference, Lowe spoke.
“Me and Jim Perry actually began this discussion about four years ago in Charlotte at Ruth’s Chris, and we began discussing what we could do and what a bill like this would do for North Carolina,” Lowe said. “First and foremost, this bill would be a job creator, which is very important in this state. And let people know not just in this country but around the world that North Carolina is open for business.”
Details of North Carolina sports betting bill
Here are the main details of HB 347:
- Appoints the North Carolina Lottery Commission (NCLC) to oversee sports betting licensing and regulations.
- Allows for up to 14 online sportsbook operators. This includes two tribal online sportsbook partners.
- Online sports betting licenses cost $1 million every five years.
- Levies an 18% tax on gross gaming wagers with no deductions for promotional credits.
- Guarantees interactive sports betting licenses to two federally recognized North Carolina Indian tribes — the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and Catawba Indian Nation. These tribal licenses don’t count toward the cap of 12 awarded by the commission.
- Operators not partnered with tribes must use geofencing to ensure that people are not located on Indian lands when placing a wager.
- Service providers pay $50,000 for a five-year license and suppliers pay $30,000.
- Advance deposit wagering licensees pay an initial $1 million application fee.
- Advanced deposit wagering licensees pay an annual 1% tax on total parimutuel wagers.
The following eight North Carolina professional sports venues can partner with operators to offer retail sports books at or near their facilities:
- Bank of America Stadium (Carolina Panthers and Charlotte FC)
- Spectrum Center (Charlotte Hornets)
- PNC Arena (Carolina Hurricanes)
- Charlotte Motor Speedway (NASCAR)
- North Wilkesboro Speedway (NASCAR)
- Quail Hollow Club (PGA Tour)
- Sedgefield Country Club (PGA Tour)
- Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park (North Carolina FC and North Carolina Courage)
North Carolina sports betting revenue allocations
The state projects North Carolina sports betting to reach $100 million annually at market maturity.
Here’s how the bill directs that revenue:
- Up to $300,000 each for athletic departments of 13 small colleges and universities.
- $2 million to the Department of Health and Human Services for gambling addiction education and treatment programs.
- $1 million to the North Carolina Amateur Sports to expand opportunities in youth sports.
- $1 million to the North Carolina Outdoor Heritage Advisory Council.
- Up to $500,000 to reimburse the North Carolina Lottery Commission for administrative expenses related to sports wagering.
- 50% of remaining funds to the state general fund.
- 30% of remaining funds to the North Carolina Major Events, Games and Attractions Fund.
- 20% of remaining funds split evenly between athletic departments of 13 NC Historically Black Colleges and Universities.