A long-stalled push to legalize online sports betting in North Carolina is finally gaining traction in court. Supporters of legalization expect to see the state House of Representatives pass a bill that would increase the tax rate and require a licensing fee before the session ends on 30 June 2022.
This would be a landmark step in a traditionally conservative state and make North Carolina the 21st state to legalize mobile betting. It is estimated that mobile sports betting could bring in between $8m and $24m within its first year. If the tax rate is increased as proposed, this number would double – according to Rep. Jason Saine – a sponsor of the bill.
So far the bill has cleared North Carolina’s state Senate, passing by a narrow margin. House lawmakers are looking to maximize tax revenues by increasing the tax rate from 8% to 14%, as well as doubling the license fee from $500,000 to $1m. The moneys brought in by legalization may entice lawmakers who were formerly opposed to it.
However, despite many confident voices, the passage of this bill remains uncertain. It is unclear if the bill has the requisite number of votes to pass into law, given gambling’s controversial reputation in southern US states.
Rep. Jason Saine said: “We’ve been very intent on making sure that we have worked with supporters of the bill on all sides. 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."
According to a recent poll, over 50% of North Carolinians believe sports gambling should be legalized. Two tribal-owned casinos already operate within the state borders – Harrah's Cherokee Casino and Harrah's Cherokee Valley River Hotel & Casino.