North Carolina sports betting legislation got favorable reviews Wednesday on the Senate floor, putting it one step from Senate passage.
After a few dissenting opinions, the Senate advanced HB 347 through second reading by a 38-11 vote. Third reading and final Senate passage are expected Thursday.
“HB 347 allows the state to regulate and tax sports wagering and parimutuel betting in North Carolina,” Sen. Tim Moffitt said on the Senate floor. “This practice is currently ongoing, but in order for us to regulate and tax, we must first authorize its practice. That’s what this bill does.”
Details of North Carolina sports betting bill
Here are the main details of HB 347 as advanced by the Senate:
- Appoints the North Carolina Lottery Commission (NCLC) to oversee sports betting licensing and regulations.
- Allows for up to 12 online sportsbook operators.
- Encourages Interactive sports wagering licensees to partner with eight North Carolina professional sports venues to offer retail sportsbooks.
- 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.
- Online sports betting licenses cost $1 million every five years.
- Levies an 18% tax on gross gaming wagers with no deductions for promotional credits.
- 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.
Senate changes to North Carolina sports betting bill
Here are some of the key changes to HB 347 made by the Senate:
- Added licensing for parimutuel wagering.
- Removed the minimum of 10 online sports betting operator licenses.
- Provided added time for the NCLC to prepare the North Carolina sports betting market for launch. Rather than setting launch for Jan. 8, regulators have up to one year from when the bill becomes law.
- Increased the tax rate from 14% to 18%.
- Removed deductions of promotional credits.
Sen. Jim Perry added an amendment on the Senate floor making minor changes. They included ensuring that parimutuel wagering operators have the same advertising restrictions to minors as sports wagering.
Some Senators voice opposition
Despite the bill advancing, three Senators argued against regulating online sports betting in North Carolina.
Sen. Jim Burgin commented on the amount of money expected in legal sports and parimutuel wagers.
“That’s not new money coming into the state. That’s money that’s currently in the state being spent on things like kids and food and rent. It’s just money being reallocated.”
Sen. Julie Mayfield expressed her concerns with increased access to gambling leading to more people with mental health issues.
“This bill legalizes an activity that is recognized as an addiction on the same level as heroin, cocaine and opioids. … If we could go back and put stricter guardrails on the use of opioids, we certainly would. If we could go back and reduce access to tobacco and save all the lives that have been lost to cancer, we probably would.”
Mayfield made claims that 60% of gambling revenues come from problem gamblers. She said responsible gamblers only make up 4% of gambling revenues.
“So the profitability of the industry – indeed their entire business model – is based on getting people addicted to the activity,” Mayfield said.
She brought up receiving form letters asking her to support HB 347. And that many of the people listed their addresses as a homeless day center in Asheville.
“It is sad and telling that … this audience craves yet another activity that they cannot afford and will contribute to the ruin of their lives.”
Sen. Lisa Grafstein warned that legalizing online sports wagering will lead to the industry seeking online casinos.
“So this is the push that we will see coming, and there’s no end to the ways that people will get addicted to damaging gaming online.”