For the first time in nearly two months a North Carolina online sports betting bill was brought under consideration, as the Senate Committee on Commerce and Insurance passed the bill with a favorable report to the Senate Finance Committee.

The committee gave the House-approved HB 347 online sports betting bill a favorable report, but not before adding several amendments to the legislation.

Among the amendments? An increase to the proposed tax rate, an in-person sports betting element, and the legalization of pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing in the state.

Next up? Senate Finance Committee

The bill was moved to the Senate Finance Committee with a favorable report as it slowly makes its way to the full Senate. Members of the Committee on Commerce and Insurance approved an amendment to increase the proposed tax rate from 14% to 18% of adjusted gross revenue. A separately approved amendment will also not allow sports betting operators to deduct promotional spend from their revenues.

“Betting on sports in our state is occurring right now. In order for us to regulate it, to tax it, and provide a public benefit with those taxes, we have to authorize it first,” Sen. Timothy D. Moffitt (R-48) said during the hearing.

The committee also approved an amendment to allow pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing. The amendment encompasses live racing, online betting, and betting on historical horse racing. Historical horse racing is a type of game resembling a slot machine that allows players to place bets on replays of past horse races.

Finally, the committee approved an in-person sports betting amendment that opens the bill up to 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 and will not be allowed to operate eight hours before or during any college sports events at the facility or adjacent facility.

If eventually approved by the Senate with these amendments, the House of Representatives will have to concur with the changes before it can be sent to Gov. Roy Cooper (D) for his signature.

The committee heard testimony from members of the public on the bill before giving it a favorable report. Several leaders of family and religious group spoke out in opposition of the planned gambling expansion.

“All the money in the world we might gain from this bill, even with what regulation it provides, can never replace the virtues that will be diminished because of its legalization,” said Rev. Mark Creech, Executive Director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina

North Carolina sports betting bill details

Rep. Jason Saine’s (R-97) online sports betting bill, HB 347, was approved by the House of Representatives in late March by a 64-45 vote on its third and final reading.

Saine’s bill will allow between 10 to 12 online sports betting operators and originally set the state’s sports betting tax rate at 14% of adjusted gross revenue. Saine’s bill allows operators 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 approved Senate amendment today disallows the practice.

Sports betting will be eligible to begin on Jan. 8, 2024, if the bill is approved by the Senate and signed into law by Gov. Cooper.

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:

  • 20% to 10 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