Whispers of a new North Carolina online sports betting bill have been trickling out of the Tar Heel State’s chambers for the last few weeks like so many bigfoot sightings.

Nothing concrete…just rumors, hearsay, and the occasional blurry photograph proving that something may actually be out there.

Well, the legend has proven to be true, as Rep. Jason Saine (R-97) today officially introduced HB 347, a new piece of legislation that seeks to legalize North Carolina online sports betting.

North Carolina’s sports betting bill details

Saine’s bill will allow between 10 to 12 online sports betting operators and sets the state’s sports betting tax rate at 14% of adjusted gross revenue. Operators will be able to deduct promotional bets and bonuses from their taxable revenue with no limitations through 2024, but the deduction rate will decline through 2026 and be disallowed starting Jan. 1, 2027.

The bill has yet to be assigned to a House committee.

If approved, the bill allows for online sports betting to start by Jan. 1, 2024. Residents much be 21 years of age to participate.

Online sports betting licenses will cost $1 million and be valid for five years. Sports betting in the state will be regulated by the North Carolina Lottery Commission, which would also award the sports betting licenses.

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

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:

  • 10% to the seven state universities for their athletic departments
  • 30% to a fund to attract major sporting events to the state (Super Bowl, March Madness, etc.)
  • 60% to the state’s general fund

According to Brian Murphy of WRAL News, Saine is confident that the bill has the votes to pass in both the House and Senate this session.

Retail sports betting is currently legal in the state in a handful of North Carolina tribal casinos.

North Carolina has been here before

In 2022, the North Carolina Senate approved a similar sports betting bill to Saine’s, but the law stalled out in the House of Representatives on the final day of the legislative session.

Members of the North Carolina House of Representatives approved the online sports betting bill, SB 38, on second reading by a vote of 51-50 on the final night of the 2022 session. However, the House voted down its concurrent bill, SB 688, later in the evening by just one vote.

Even before its vote on the House floor, SB 38 was drastically changed by an approved amendment to disallow collegiate sports betting in the state. Rep. John Autry (D-100) introduced the amendment and it was approved by a vote of 62-39. Autry brought up several alleged point shaving scandals involving former North Carolina State Basketball Coach Jim Valvano as reason for banning collegiate sports betting.

If the bills had been approved, 10 to 12 online operators would have been able to launch in North Carolina on Jan. 1, 2023. Fiscal analysis of the bills estimated nearly $25 million to $50 million annually to the state in sports betting tax revenues.