North Carolina sports betting is back in the running in a big way this session.

Members of the North Carolina House Judiciary Committee 1 approved two sports betting bills this afternoon. The proposed pieces of legislation now move forward to the House Finance and House Rules committee before potentially being heard on the House floor.

One of the bills must be approved before the end of North Carolina’s legislative session on June 30 for online sports betting to become a reality in the Tar Heel State.

Two North Carolina online sports betting bills moving on

Both approved bills legalize online sports betting, but differences in tax rates and license fees set them apart.

SB 688, a Senate approved sports betting bill that was a holdover from the 2021 session, was approved by the committee and will move to the House floor. It sets the online sports betting tax rate at 8%, sets the license fees at $1 million and the renewal fees at $100,000. In addition to casinos, the law includes language that will allow North Carolina professional sports facilities, race tracks, and PGA-event golf courses to offer online sports betting.

It will allow between 10 to 12 online sports betting operators in the state.

SB 688 was passed by the Senate in full last year and is likely the primary vehicle for online sports betting moving forward. It will not be a surprise if elements from the approved SB 38 make their way into the piece of legislation.

Sponsors of the bill previously noted they hoped online sports betting would launch by fall if legalized.

The second bill, SB 38, was approved by a vote of 6-3 with one abstention. The bill increases the online sports betting tax rate to 14%, leaves the license fee at $1 million, but increases renewal fees to $1 million. The number of allowed online sports betting operators was not mentioned in discussions, but it will likely be similar to the SB 688’s 10 to 12 operators.

The bill also creates a special event fund to attract large sporting events, such as NASCAR races or the Super Bowl, to consider hosting their competition in North Carolina. It will also allow parimutuel betting on approved platforms.

SB 38 also clarifies seating capacities for facilities hoping to offer online sports betting.

  • A motor sports facility must have a minimum seating capacity for at least 17,000 attendees
  • A professional golf event or golf facility must have the capacity for at least 50,000 attendees

Not all Representatives in favor

Several North Carolina House Representatives expressed their concerns with the potential legalization of online sports betting. Rep. Abe Jones (D-38) cast his vote against both bills and warned that the state should not prey on vulnerable people for revenue.

“Do we need money this way? Taking advantage of addicts? Taking advantage of people that want to make money this way?” he asked.

Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-61) also voted against both measures. Harrison warned of the potential for corruption in college sports if college sports betting was approved in either bills and expressed frustration that the committee did not hear potential amendments in the afternoon.