After being defeated by a lone vote in 2022, legalized North Carolina sports betting is now on the precipice of a Senate vote (and House concurrence) before possibly launching sometime in 2024.

The North Carolina Senate Finance committee and the Senate Rules and Operations committee both approved HB 347, a bill to legalize online and brick-and-mortar sports betting in the Tar Heel State, but not before adding several amendments to the document.

The bill will now head to the Senate for a potential vote this week. It will require two votes on the Senate floor, as it includes a new tax rate for the state. It ultimately will require concurrence from the House of Representatives before being sent to the Governor for his signature.

North Carolina sports betting by 2024?

If approved and signed into law by Gov. Roy Cooper (D), HB 347 will legalize 12 online sports betting licenses and brick-and-mortar sportsbooks at “places of public accommodation.” Brick-and-mortar sportsbooks will be allowed on the property of a stadium or arena, or within one-and-a-half miles of the facility. The sportsbooks will only accept cash bets.

Before the committee approvals, the bill was amended to clarify the state’s potential sports betting launch. The Finance committee unanimously approved an amendment that stipulates North Carolina sports betting launch “no later than 12 months after the act becomes law.” The bill originally set the sports betting launch date for Jan. 8, 2024.

Additionally, the committee agreed to disallow historical horse racing, a type of game resembling a slot machine that allows players to place bets on replays of past horse races, and a requirement that brick-and-mortar sportsbooks close eight hours before or during college games.

The approved bill sets a sports betting tax rate at 18% of gross gaming revenue and allows for pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing.

The proposed law allows bets on professional sports, college sports (including in-state schools), eSports, and the Olympic games.

$100 million by 2027?

A new fiscal estimate was included for HB 347 to reflect its increased 18% tax rate. According to the fiscal note, estimates for the total sports wagering tax and fee revenue for FY 2023-2024 were set at $22.1 million, increasing to $100.6 million by FY 2027-28.

Sports betting tax revenues will be distributed as follows:

  • $2 million annually for gambling addiction and treatment services
  • $1 million annually to Division of Parks and Recreation for the purchase of youth sports equipment
  • $300,000 each annually to seven state universities for their athletic departments
  • $1 million annually to Outdoor Heritage Advisory Council for grants

If there is any remaining revenue, it will be distributed as follows:

  • 20% to 13 historically black colleges and universities for their athletic departments
  • 30% to a fund to attract major sporting events to the state (Super Bowl, March Madness, etc.)
  • 50% to the state’s general fund

Online sports betting licenses will cost $1 million for a five-year license.