Tar Heel State lawmakers believe that they have sufficient support to see a sports betting bill through. This comes a year after talks about sports gambling legalization got muddled in the House of Representatives, although they did win the Senate during last year’s session. Regardless, no final decision was reached and the previous attempt petered out.
The bad news ends here, though. This year North Carolina’s House of Representatives and Senators have changed with mostly Republicans in power, who seem to be keen to see a sports betting bill pass through. Phil Berger, the Senate president, remains confident that there will be mounting support and diminishing opposition in both chambers given the political makeup of the Assembly.
North Carolina Confident in Passage of Sports Betting
“It is something the public overall supports. If you have a telephone, you already have access to it. You’re not supposed to, but it’s there,” said Berger in a realization that political preferences should give way to what the public wants. This should mean that any attempt to hamper the passage of a sports gambling bill would fail this year.
Last year, it was mostly due to “moral objections” that a law failed, but this is quickly becoming an unsustainable argument as the entire nation has been fast to legalize sports gambling with 33 states and Washington DC now offering this activity. North Carolina, though, has some bad habits to break away with.
North Carolina for one is seriously opposed to any and all sorts of gambling. The state has no commercial casinos, let alone pari-mutuel wagering, racinos, or any other form of gambling owned by private businesses. It does allow for the three tribal casinos to run gambling, though.
The Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River, and Catawba Two Kings Casino are all viable and licensed properties that operate under tribal sovereignty and they are not generally considered the business of lawmakers. So, the question remains – will House Bill 347 clear its way to the top?
It has fairly decent support from both spectra of North Carolinian politics and is sponsored by Democrats (Ashton Wheeler Clemmons and Zack Hawkins) as well as by Republicans (Jason Saine and John Bell). In total there are 40 members of the House who have said they would support the bill, with only 21 more votes needed to secure a majority in the 120-member House.
Going Straight for Online Sports Betting
But what is HB 347 about? It’s an ambitious project that aims at scaling sports gambling very quickly and introducing online sportsbooks. This will do away with the usual toing-and-froing that lawmakers do in first introducing land-based sports betting and then bickering for months to expand the activity online.
North Carolina wants to jump straight for the online activity with at least 10 interactive licenses (but no more than 12). However, to get in, sportsbooks would have to foot a $1-million licensing fee. Renewals are also steep at $1 million and will be required every five years. Despite these rates, there should be no shortage of candidates.