North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper signed legal sports betting into law on Friday, July 26, making the Tar Heel state the 17th state to legalize sports wagering since the US Supreme Court paved the way in May 2018.
North Carolina SB 154 cleared the Senate on April 9 but was held up for several months before it cleared the House on July 15.
Under the bill, legal sports wagering is allowed at two brick-and-mortar sportsbooks located in tribal casinos. Sports wagering will be regulated under the tribal-state gaming compact.
Mobile sports betting was not legalized. Wagering on both professional and college sports are allowed.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians are expected to open sportsbooks in the two casinos located on tribal land. Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino, both in partnership with Caesars Entertainment, have not announced opening dates.
The two casinos are located in the southwestern area of the state, about two and a half hours from Atlanta. Neither the bordering states of Georgia nor South Carolina offer legal sports wagering at this time.
Neighboring Tennessee already allows retail and mobile sports wagering.
Gaming Commission bill not approved
SB 154 doesn’t legalize sports betting so much as it simply allows two tribal casinos to open sportsbooks under their current compacts. No other facilities can open sportbooks, either retail or online.
A second bill, HB 929, backed by several House Republican leaders, would have done more.
HB 929 defined fantasy sports as not gambling under state law. It named The Lottery Commission as the state’s Gaming Commission, granting the agency authority to regulate fantasy games and charge registration fees to online sites that provide gaming forums.
The commission would not have had authority to regulate the tribal-state compact.
Sponsors argued that fantasy sports betting is already popular in North Carolina, but it’s not currently regulated. Proponents of the bill said it would give the state regulatory powers to ensure proper oversight.
However, even though the bill easily passed the House Commerce committee in May, it failed to pass the House Judiciary Committee in early June.