North Carolina in the Red Zone for Legalized Sports Gambling


A pair of sports gambling bills passed through the North Carolina House Judiciary Committee last week. The passage is a step forward for the potential legalization of mobile sports wagering within the state. But several steps remain before the bill becomes law, and the state’s legislative session ends on June 30.  


Each bill moved through the committee despite some opposition. The goal is to legalize mobile sports wagering in North Carolina. Currently, retail sports wagering is legal at a pair of tribal-owned casinos, but mobile sports betting isn’t yet legal across the state. Virginia and Tennessee have legal online sports wagering, with some North Carolina legislators eager to bring additional tax revenue to the state through legal wagering.  


The proposal includes a 14% privilege tax on gross gaming revenue and a $1 million application fee for sportsbook operators. There’s also a $1 million fee for license renewal, a piece of language included to drive more revenue to the state. 


An amendment to the bills would send $2 million of tax revenue to the Department of Health and Human Services to help with gambling addiction. Currently, the proposal allocates only $1 million annually to the Department of Health and Human Services for gambling addiction education and treatment.


Also, the bills give 50% of tax revenue to a fund designed to attract major sporting events to North Carolina, but bill sponsors suggested that percentage may be lower in SB 38. There’s some discussion expected in future committee hearings about where the tax revenue may go. 


DraftKings Sportsbook ReviewThe bills are expected to grant between ten and 12 mobile betting licenses, and powerhouse sportsbook operators like DraftKings and FanDuel will be among those given licenses. 


 While the bills passed through the committee, there was some pushback from a couple of committee members. Representatives Pricey Harrison and Abe Jones were outspoken about their concerns with the bills, namely the possibility of increased gambling addiction issues in the state.

Harrison successfully added an amendment to remove wagering on amateur sports, but betting on collegiate sports is still approved under the bill. She hoped the ability to bet on collegiate sports would also be removed, but that wasn’t supported. 


Stops in the House Finance Committee and House Rules Committee are needed before either bill may reach the House floor. The House Finance Committee has regularly scheduled meetings every Tuesday and Thursday morning, while the House Rules Committee meets every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. 


If legalized, it will take at least a few months before statewide legal mobile sports wagering becomes available to North Carolinians. In fact, the current proposal states that online wagering platforms won’t launch until at least Jan. 1, 2023. That would be in plenty of time for college basketball in this hoops-crazed state.


While different from optimistic timelines shared by legislators earlier this year, a 2023 launch makes more sense compared to other states. It typically takes five to six months to go from legalizing online sports betting to allowing mobile sportsbook operators to launch their offerings.