Mobile Sports Betting in NC Nears Reality, Would Start in 2024

A bill to authorize mobile sports betting in North Carolina is headed back to the House for concurrence after winning passage in the Senate on Thursday. Governor Roy Cooper could get the bill on his desk next week.
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By
June 02, 2023

North Carolina lawmakers could be days away from sending a bill authorizing mobile sports betting to Governor Roy Cooper’s desk for his signature.

On Thursday, the Senate held its third reading of HB 347, which would authorize the North Carolina Lottery Commission (NCLC) to issue 12 mobile sports betting licenses. The bill passed on a 37-11 vote and was immediately sent back to the House for concurrence.

House lawmakers must agree to several amendments that the Senate attached to HB 347 before it can be sent to Cooper. A simple vote on the House floor is expected next week, but if the House does not concur, a conference committee would need to be called to iron out the differences.

The amendments that the Senate attached to HB 347 are not expected to derail the legislation.

“We’re going to concur Tuesday and Wednesday,” House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) told WRAL-TV in a report Thursday, shortly after the Senate vote. The House passed the bill 64-45 on March 30.

Cooper, a Democrat, is expected to sign the legislation. If he signs HB 347, its provisions would officially become law on January 8, 2024, but mobile sports betting likely won’t launch that day — a Senate amendment gives the NCLC an additional twelve months to promulgate rules governing mobile sports betting and to officially launch the market.

North Carolina would become the 28th state with legal online sports betting once the market launches, according to the American Gaming Association (AGA).

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Senate Raised Tax Rate to 18%

Under HB 347, mobile sports betting would be taxed at 18% of gross gaming revenue. Operators would pay a $1 million licensing fee every five years.

The House version of the bill originally proposed taxing sports betting at 14%, but the Senate amended the bill to raise it to 18%. The Senate also authorized wagers on pari-mutuel racing.

But the Senate removed authorization of historical horse racing (HHR) machines and prohibited operators from deducting promo costs from taxable revenue. The Senate also removed verbiage requiring a minimum of 10 mobile licenses to be issued by the NCLC and gave the agency more time to launch the market — the House originally called for mobile sports betting to start on January 8, 2024.

HB 347 authorizes the NCLC to issue 12 mobile sports betting licenses, but it also allows so-called “sports facilities” to open a retail sportsbook. The bill’s definition of a sports facility includes stadiums for professional sports teams in the state and certain auto racetracks and golf courses.

Four standalone mobile sports betting licenses would also be authorized.

Eight Possible Retail Sportsbooks at Pro Stadiums

Venue Team/League
Bank of America Stadium Carolina Panthers (NFL)
Charlotte Motor Speedway NASCAR
North Wilkesboro Speedway NASCAR
PNC Arena Carolina Hurricanes (NHL)
Quail Hollow Club PGA Tour
WakeMed Soccer Park North Carolina FC (USL1), North Carolina Courage (NWSL)
Sedgefield Country Club PGA Tour
Spectrum Center Charlotte Hornets (NBA)

The bill also stipulates that two federally recognized tribes in the state — the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and Catawba Indian Nation — are eligible for a mobile license. Any tribal licenses issued would not count against the cap of 12 that the NCLC can issue.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians owns two casinos in the state — Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in Cherokee, NC, and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Hotel & Casino in Murphy. Meanwhile, the Catawba Indian Nation owns Catawba Two Kings Casino in Kings Mountain.

All three tribal casinos have retail sportsbooks — Caesars Sportsbook is at the two Harrah’s properties, while Catawba Two Kings operates its own branded sportsbook.

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