North Carolina Mobile Betting Moves Forward

After appearing to be on the back burner for a while, a measure that seeks to expand sports betting beyond North Carolina’s tribal casinos is finally progressing.

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The legislation, SB 688, cleared its first major hurdle on Wednesday afternoon after getting a thumbs up from the Senate Finance Committee. The agenda of the Wednesday meeting was to discuss and evaluate the fiscal components of the legislation, whose primary sponsors are Senators Jim Perry and Paul Lowe.

Following the favorable vote by the Finance Committee, the bill is now set to be discussed by the Judiciary Committee, and if it is cleared, it will advance to the Commerce and Insurance and Rules and Operations committees before going to the floor of the Senate.

According to the bill’s lead sponsor, Sen. Jim Perry, there’s enough support for the measure in the Senate hence he is optimistic about it clearing the rigorous committee process. The lawmaker also expects the legislation, which he views as a placeholder, to evolve in the process.

‘’Based upon the feedback I’ve gotten, we should view this bill as a placeholder bill and it will evolve in the committee process. A tightening up, wagering down, whatever you call it,’’ says the legislator.

What are the Contents of the Bill?

Sen. Perry’s SB 688 calls for the legalization of commercial sportsbooks in the Old North State.

If the bill becomes law without any amendments, the NC Education Lottery would be tasked with issuing a minimum of 10 and not more than 12 online sports betting licenses to operators seeking to enter the market. These sportsbooks would be allowed to accept wagers on professional sports, college sports events, esports, and amateur sports like the Olympics. Betting on youth sports, however, would be prohibited.

The proposed license fee for businesses is $500,000, payable at the time of submitting a proposal to the Commission for evaluation. These permits would be renewed after five years at the cost of $100,000. The proposed licensing fee for service providers is $25,000, and the renewal fee would be $10,000.

Regarding levies, all licensed operators would pay 8% of their adjusted gross gaming revenue to the Commission in taxes. Half of the revenue would go to the proposed North Carolina Major events, Games, and Attractions Fund, and the other half would go to state coffers.

In addition to statewide mobile betting, the legislation would also authorize physical sportsbooks inside sports facilities with a seating capacity of 17,000 or more. Eligible venues include the PNC Arena, which is the home of the Carolina Hurricanes, the Charlotte Hornet’s Spectrum Center, and the Carolina Panther’s Bank of America Stadium.

There is also a clause authorizing sportsbooks to accept crypto currency wagers, making North Carolina the second state to allow the use of digital and virtual currencies in sports betting after Wyoming.

Current State of Sports Betting in North Carolina

The State of North Carolina launched its limited sports betting industry in March this year, although the legislation allowing the state’s gaming tribes to operate sportsbooks passed in 2019.

Under the current law, sports wagering is only allowed within the premises of tribal-owned casinos, and mobile betting is illegal.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians was the first to add the vertical to its offering in March. The tribe partners with William Hill to operate physical sportsbooks at its facilities in the western part of the state; Harrah’s Cherokee and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River.

The recently opened Two Kings Casino in Kings Mountain is also expected to join the bandwagon soon. The facility is owned by the Catawba Indian Nation.

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