Jun 15, 2022 - News

NC moves to increase mobile sports betting revenue

Illustration of the football, money tongue, and basketball emojis.
Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

A long-stalled push to legalize and regulate online sports betting in the state appears to be moving forward. Supporters expect the House to pass a bill that would increase the tax rate and require a licensing fee for sports betting operators before the session ends in two weeks.

Why it matters: If passed, the legislation would generate millions in tax revenue and make North Carolina one of 20 states that have legalized mobile betting.

  • Original estimates projected that mobile sports betting would bring in between $8 and $24 million in the first full year. If the tax rate increases, that number would double, Rep. Jason Saine — a sponsor of the bill — told Axios, citing early estimates by legislative staff.

State of play: The state Senate passed the bill by a narrow margin last fall.

  • House lawmakers plan to introduce a separate bill to further increase the proposed tax rate from 8% to 14% and double the licensing fee from $500,000 to $1 million before sending it to a vote. That could make the legislation more appealing to some lawmakers who may have otherwise opposed it.

Yes, but: It's unclear if the House will have the votes it needs to pass the bill before the legislature adjourns, given gambling's controversial nature, but Republican leaders are optimistic.

  • "As of right now, I'm optimistic that we have the votes to pass it," said Rep. Jon Hardister, the House majority whip and sponsor of the bill. "Most of the feedback I've gotten from my caucus has been positive."

As of Tuesday afternoon, staffers, lobbyists and lawmakers were still ironing out finer details.

  • "We’ve been very intent on making sure that we have worked with supporters of the bill on all sides," Saine said. "Obviously, there are many moving parts to the governance of sports betting and we have been cautious not to release the language too quickly, opting instead to better perfect the bill."

Worth noting: Sports gambling is already legal in North Carolina, though only in the two tribal-owned casinos in the state, WRAL reported.

More than 50% of North Carolinians believe sports gambling, including online betting, should be legal, a WRAL poll released in April found.

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