North Carolina Sports Betting Bill Expected to Advance in June

Sports betting legislation in the state has not seen any progress since April, but sponsors expect serious discussions to take place in June.

Senate Bill 688 on Halt Since April

The expansion of sports betting in North Carolina has not seen the expected progress, although supporters of the legislation say there might be an advance in June. Senate Bill 688 (SB 688), which was filed by Senators Jim Perry and Paul Lowe, has been at a standstill since April 8, when it was referred to the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate.

The proposed legislation aims to extend sportsbooks beyond the two tribal casinos owned by the Eastern Bank of Cherokee Indians. Legalizing sports betting in North Carolina has a huge revenue potential and would be used to fund education and boost the economy.

Currently, the non-regulated sports betting industry in North Carolina is booming and according to estimates, it might stand at nearly $2 billion. For comparison, the state lottery amounts to $1.5 billion and $1.9 billion annually. Senator Jim Perry said:

“We believe every sheriff knows who the bookies are in their county. We see this going on and we see folks avoiding income taxes on money from illegal gambling.”

If the legislation is approved, North Carolina might see up to 12 online licenses and will allow owners of sports facilities to launch on-site wagering platforms. Senator Lowe pointed out the negative effect of the pandemic on the education sector and said that allowing sports betting might raise revenue to be used for school construction, among other things.

Spectrum Gaming, a non-partisan consultancy specialized in legalized gaming, carried out a report into the tax implications for the state should sports betting become legal. The results show within 5 years, the revenue from casinos would reach $2.2 billion, while income from sports betting would amount to $367 million. Online gambling revenue would equal $300 million, while revenue from video poker could be $2.5 billion.

House Bill 631 was scheduled for a hearing in the House Commerce Committee on May 11, but was canceled later. Rep. Jason Saine, who introduced the bill, said that legislators have become more welcoming towards the bill, since neighboring Tennessee has reported about $16 million in tax revenue so far this year. Saine believes that there will be clarity regarding the bill by the end of June. Other advocates of the legislation hope to tackle the issue in the upcoming weeks before the break starting in July.