The North Carolina House of Representatives now holds the future of sports betting in the state in its hands.
Months after it was introduced, Senate Bill 688 passed the state Senate last week and was sent to the House. That legislation was read for the first time in the House on Tuesday and referred to the Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House.
The Senate approved the bill by a vote of 26-19. Although a Republican — Jim Perry of Lenoir — sponsored the bill, Democratic support pushed the legislation through. Just nine of 24 Republicans voted yes on SB 688, compared to 17 of 21 Democrats.
The bill passed with an amendment that would require the state lottery commission, which would oversee sports betting, to transfer $1 million to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services for a gambling addiction program.
“Since we have had members express sincere concerns about the impact that gambling may have on some individuals, we wanted to get out in front of that issue and provide a little comfort for it,” Perry said.
While North Carolinians can currently place wagers on sports at two casinos operated by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in the state, this legislation would open up sports bets to more operators, as well as mobile betting. The lottery commission could issue a dozen licenses to locations that include professional sports stadiums.
The sports betting bill would tax revenue at 8%, one of the lowest rates in the country, with the money split between the state general fund and a fund for event promotions. Analysts estimate the tax could bring in $24 million annually.
Bordering states Tennessee and Virginia have already legalized sports betting, joining about half of the country in doing so.