Home Gambling Sports betting and gambling in North Carolina could be legalized in a 2022 bill

Sports betting and gambling in North Carolina could be legalized in a 2022 bill

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Question: Can I legally bet on sports in North Carolina?

Short answer: It’s already legal to bet on sports events at tribal casinos, and North Carolina may soon expand sports betting statewide.

The state Senate passed a bill last summer that would allow people to legally gamble on their cellphones and at major sports venues. Under the law, people could bet on professional and collegiate competitions, from the Super Bowl to ACC basketball.

Many are keen for North Carolina to join the wave of states that have welcomed sports betting in recent years. These states, proponents point out, generated tens of millions in tax revenue by regulating a former black market.

Still, many recognize that there are inherent risks of addiction if sports gambling becomes more convenient.

Longer answer: In 1992, Congress passed the Protection of Professional and Amateur Sports Act, or PAPSA, which largely banned sports betting in all states except Nevada. PAPSA remained in effect until 2018, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck it down. Since then, each state has been free to choose its position on sports betting.

Today, around thirty states have legalized sports betting, including two neighbors of North Carolina: Tennessee and Virginia.

In 2019, North Carolina enacted a law allowing sports betting on tribal lands. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians opened the state’s first sports betting site last March at its Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in western North Carolina. So far, the addition of sports betting has been a triumph, said Breanna Sneed, spokeswoman for the Eastern Band of Cherokees.

“It was a success beyond our expectations,” she said.

Sneed declined to share how much money the tribe has made from sports betting at his two casinos.

Bet on (almost) all facets of the game

This year, politicians and lobbyists are looking to further expand sports betting in North Carolina. In August, the state Senate passed a bill that would legalize mobile and more in-person sports betting.

Under Senate Bill 688, the state would sell a dozen betting licenses to sports betting companies like DraftKings and FanDuel. Bettors could either gamble through these online platforms or place bets at some of the state’s largest professional sports venues, such as Bank of America Stadium (home of the Panthers), Spectrum Center (home of the Hornets) and the PNC Arena (home of the Hurricanes). .

The bill would allow anyone 21 and older to bet on professional, college and electronic games, although horse racing is not covered. Betting on high school athletics would also remain illegal.

Beyond picking the outright winners of games, bettors could put money on nearly every facet of a sports contest: like total runs scored, which team gets first possession, how many free throws are taken or who wins a hockey game.

“It’s much easier to understand things that aren’t allowed (to bet on) as opposed to things that are allowed,” said Ches McDowell, a Charlotte Hornets lobbyist who advocates for the betting bill.

Sports leagues and individual teams favor legalized gambling, McDowell explained, because public interest in gambling increases if there is money at stake.

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The bill’s prospects in the House

The sports betting bill passed the Senate by a vote of 26 to 19. The legislation received bipartisan support but also bipartisan resistance.

Sen. Jim Perry (R-Lenoir), one of the bill’s main sponsors, said he knows illegal sports betting is already happening in North Carolina. By regulating and taxing the industry, he saw his rural district receive much-needed financial aid.

“I think I have an obligation to consider additional sources of income other than just going to my farmers and saying, ‘You all have to pay more property taxes,'” Perry said.

Joining Senator Perry as the bill’s other main sponsor was Democratic Senator Paul Lowe, who represents part of Forsyth County.

“He’s in a smaller area, I’m in a bigger urban area,” Lowe said. “But in terms of some of the financial concerns, they were the same. If people are already doing it, why not make it safe and regulate it and get some of the revenue.

Other states added tens of millions of dollars per month in tax revenue from sports betting. Since Tennessee began regulating sports betting in November 2020, it has so far brought in the northern state $41 million.

The North Carolina gambling bill, passed by the Senate, provides for an 8% tax on the income of betting companies. This is considerably lower than the tax rate of other states like Tennessee (20%) and Virginia (15%). But Senator Perry and lobbyists like McDowell have said they expect North Carolina’s proposed tax rate to rise when the House considers the legislation.

The bill has already cleared a first hurdle in the House, passing the Commerce Committee this fall by a 12-4 vote.

“It’s going in the right direction,” said Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Guilford), who sponsored the House bill. If the legislation is passed by the summer, Hardister said “it could come into effect later this year, maybe in the fall.”

Governor Roy Cooper, who could veto the law, has previously voiced his support for legalizing sports betting, telling WRAL News in July that “we might as well control it and get revenue from it.”

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‘Keep an eye out’ on betting addictions

But as more states begin legal sports betting, concerns are growing about gambling addiction.

An estimated 2 million Americans are addicted to gambling, with more saying the practice interferes with their lives in some way. Although this represents a small percentage of the overall population, it should be noted that many studies of gambling addiction predate the recent influx of sports betting.

The competitive nature of athletics can spark a unique level of interest in the game, said Gary Gray, executive director of the North Carolina Council on Program Gambling.

“I think there are even teenagers saying I bet you a coke on which team will win tonight,” he said. “It’s just human nature.”

Gray advised family members to “keep an eye” on the bank accounts of all known sports players and be ready to step in if large sums go missing without explanation.

But Gray said he takes no position on whether North Carolina should broadly legalize sports betting.

Under the current Senate bill, the state would donate $1 million of its sports betting revenue to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services for treatment and education regarding gambling addiction. The state health agency already operates a problem gambling program funded by the North Carolina Education Lottery, which began in 2006.

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Brian Gordon is a statewide reporter for the USA Today Network in North Carolina. Feel free to email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @skyoutbriout