A wild ending to a House of Representatives meeting has likely doomed any chance of legalized North Carolina online sports betting in 2022.

Members of the North Carolina House of Representatives approved one online sports betting bill, SB 38, on second reading by a vote of 51-50 Thursday night. However, the House voted down a concurrent bill, SB 688, later in the evening by a vote of 49-52. A motion to remand the bill to the House Finance Committee for more work was also voted down, ultimately killing the bill for good.

SB 38 will be heard by the House of Representatives on third reading tomorrow, but it may be a futile affair. Legalized North Carolina online sports betting likely depended on the passage of both SB 38 and SB 688 in tandem. Representatives may potentially propose amendments to include aspects of SB 688 into the legislation, but with SB 38’s own narrow approval by just one vote it may not matter.

The state’s legislative session ends on June 30. Can something else be worked out? Legally, yes, but in reality it faces a steep uphill battle.

North Carolina online sports betting faces long odds

The House hearing put an end to a crazy 24-hours of negotiations and committee meetings in the Tar Heel state. The two North Carolina online sports betting bills moved favorably through three committees before finding themselves on the House floor this afternoon.

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.

Despite the additional revenues, several representatives voiced their displeasure over the online sports betting bills. Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-61) warned her fellow legislators that approved online sports betting could lead to the corruption of collegiate sports and prey on North Carolina citizens. It was also Harrison’s opinion that the bill was unconstitutional, as its proposed 14% online sports betting tax eclipsed the state’s 7% cap on income tax.

Harrison also criticized the overly complicated nature of having to approve two separate sports betting bills that included multiple amendments.

Rep. Abe Jones (D-38) said the bills conflicted with how he was raised and said online sports betting could lead to exploitation of North Carolina residents and a rise in prostitution.

Future of North Carolina online sports betting

It’s the second year in a row the Tar Heel state likely will not be able to approve an online sports betting bill. Unless something can be done before the June 30 session deadline, North Carolina legislators will have to wait until 2023 to attempt legalization.

One issue that will likely come up in 2023? Collegiate sports betting. The issue obviously touched a nerve with legislators and its inclusion in any future bill will have to be carefully considered.

In good news for sports betting supporters, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) is in favor of sports betting and would likely sign a bill into law if it finds its way onto his desk.