NC Sports Betting Bill: Fee Changes, Amateur Rules

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Rep. Pricey Harrison speaks out against the <a class=sports betting legislation during the House Judiciary 1 Committee meeting on Tuesday, June 21, 2022 in Raleigh, NC” title=”Rep. Pricey Harrison speaks out against the sports betting legislation during the House Judiciary 1 Committee meeting on Tuesday, June 21, 2022 in Raleigh, NC” loading=”lazy”/>

Rep. Pricey Harrison speaks out against the sports betting legislation during the House Judiciary 1 Committee meeting on Tuesday, June 21, 2022 in Raleigh, NC

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Two bills legalizing sports betting in North Carolina advanced Tuesday with bipartisan support and opposition.

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has previously said North Carolina should legalize it, and last year the Republican-led NC Senate passed legislation to do just that.

Senate Act 688 went nowhere in NC House for months in August as it met opposition from Christian groups on the right and social justice advocates on the left, alongside several legal concerns.

But it resurfaced Tuesday when the bill went through a committee hearing and passed with a 6-3 votes. There was one abstention.

One of the opponents was Democratic Raleigh Rep. Abe Jones, a former Wake County judge who said he was concerned about what would happen if more people became addicted to gambling.

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Rep. Abe Jones speaks out against the sports betting legislation during the House Judiciary 1 Committee meeting Tuesday, June 21, 2022 in Raleigh, NC Robert Willett [email protected]

“For 17 years on the bench I’ve seen what can happen to people who are addicted to drugs,” he said. “I know that there are some people in our society who are addicted to gambling. Many of them cannot afford to gamble and yet they gamble and they hurt their families and they hurt themselves.”

Rep. Pricey Harrison, a Guilford County Democrat, also opposed the bill. Harrison said she was unconvinced by the idea that online sports betting would generate significant revenue for the state and said the “social cost” of gambling was “significant”.

“It’s a predatory, regressive form of funding,” Harrison said. “We know from our lottery experience that most ticket purchases occur in the areas with the highest poverty rates in the state. It’s just very worrying to me that we continue to view this as an increase in sales.”

New sports betting law introduced

The committee also approved a second sports betting bill on Tuesday that included several key changes from the original bill. The vote was again 6-3 with one abstention.

If released, the new version of Senate bill 38 want:

Sports betting companies would have to pay almost twice as much in taxes, from 8% to 14%, and levy royalties on companies wanting to do business in North Carolina.

Double the amount of money earmarked for publicly funded gambling help from $1 million to $2 million.

Add horse racing as legal but disallow betting on amateur sports. That includes the Olympics, but not collegiate athletics, which would still be open to betting.

Correct the language in a section about special funds that could be used as financial incentives to lure sports tournaments here, as the original language inadvertently excluded NASCAR from receiving any of that money.

“We accidentally left out NASCAR … and in North Carolina that’s a very bad thing,” said Republican Sen. Jim Perry of Kinston, a sponsor of both bills.

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Senator Jim Perry addresses the House Judiciary 1 Committee during its sports betting legislation meeting Tuesday, June 21, 2022 in Raleigh, NC Perry is the sponsor of the betting legislation. Robert Willett [email protected]

Time Crunch establishes two paths forward

Both bills are now on course for a vote in the House of Representatives, possibly later this week.

Typically, the legislature amends a bill and only passes the new version. But the committee passed both the old version of a bill and a newer version with amendments on Tuesday. Lawmakers are facing self-imposed time constraints as leaders have said the 2022 session should be completed by the end of June.

If the old version of the bill is passed, it would go straight to Cooper for signature since it has already passed the Senate. But if the newer bill with the amendments also passes, it would have to go back to the Senate for further debate.

But with less than two weeks remaining in June, it’s unclear if that leaves enough time to pass the bill before the date lawmakers hoped to leave Raleigh — especially if the new changes are met with opposition in the Senate bump.

Both SB 688 and SB 38 are next scheduled to be heard in the House Finance Committee on Wednesday morning. They are also listed as possible items on the agenda of a Wednesday afternoon House Rules Committee meeting, which would be the last stop before consideration by the full chamber.

That could lead to votes on the House floor later this week.

For more news on North Carolina government and politics, watch The News & Observer and NC Insider’s Under the Dome politics podcast. You can find it under https://campsite.bio/underthedome or wherever you get your podcasts.

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Will Doran reports on North Carolina politics, particularly the state legislature. In 2016 he founded PolitiFact NC and previously reported on local issues in several cities and towns. Contact him at [email protected] or (919) 836-2858.

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