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Progress in North Carolina With Sports Betting Bill 688 Considered in the Senate

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Lawmakers in North Carolina moved forward with sports betting bill 688 on Thursday, making progress after months of legislative dormancy in North Carolina. SB 688 has been slowly moving through the Senate since April and was passed by the North Carolina Senate Finance Committee.

If SB 688 is passed the bill will allow mobile sports betting and expanded retail wagering in North Carolina. Today, sports wagering is only authorized at local tribal casinos.

Closer, but a long way to go for North Carolina

The North Carolina Senate Finance Committee advanced SB 688. This is a step forward for expanded sports betting, but the process has been slow since the bill was introduced in April. There is a similar bill working through the House titled HB 631 but it is the Senate bill that legislators in both chambers are gravitating towards for legalization.

Consideration for SB 688 has been slow, but HB 631 is more delayed, so it’s possible that it will be dropped in House. SB 688 calls for between 10 and 12 mobile sports betting licenses issues to operators to grow the state’s gambling market.

Tribal nations will also have mobile betting access in the state to build off their retail sportsbooks. Mobile betting dominates in the legal United States wagering industry, causing tribal gaming executives to be at the forefront of the lobbying process.

The favorable ruling from the Senate Finance Committee advances the bill to other committees throughout the chamber. These groups are unknown, but likely committees are the Judiciary, Commerce, and Insurance, and Rules and Operations of the Senate.

Sponsors questioned throughout the hearing

Sen. Jim Perry, a Republican, and Sen. Paul Lowe Jr., a Democrat, were the two lawmakers who proposed SB 688. These two presented the bill during Wednesday’s hearing and were dealt multiple questions.

There were two committee members who objected to the bill, but most questions were for confirmation of various portions of the legislation. Since a finance committee was involved in the hearing, most questions dealt with money matters like tax rates and licensure fees.

The tax rate in the bill is 8% for mobile wagers, which is well below the national average. This was the primary objection to the bill because the low tax rate will cut into the state’s share of sports betting wealth.

Perry claimed that the projected tax revenue has been projected between $25 and $50 million. 

“There’s always a social impact to every choice. There’s a price to be paid for freedom, some would say. My mother does not like this legislation. I understand. I know how she was raised. I sat down and showed her that I could log on to a website for offshore sports betting today. Sports betting does exist in North Carolina, and it’s just not something that is regulated and taxed by the state.” — Sen. Jim Perry (R)

Perry continued to stress that the low tax rate is better than having a non-regulated market. Opposing legislators have declared that heightened disordered gambling is not worth the additional tax revenue, so sports betting is not guaranteed in Virginia in the near future.

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