Some NC lawmakers say the state will have legalized online sports betting by the start of the next NFL season

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RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) – Ahead of Super Bowl Sunday, some state lawmakers say they believe North Carolina will enact legislation legalizing online sports betting by the start of the next NFL season.

Gov. Roy Cooper (D) supports the concept, saying some people should bet anyway and the state should benefit from the potential tax revenue.

“I think it’s important that North Carolina is at the forefront to make sure we secure the thousands of tech jobs that were coming,” he said. “We should have a good, strong debate on this, but I think it’s time for North Carolina to get involved and do it.”

State Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln) has attempted to negotiate a bill that he believes would eventually pass the General Assembly.

In a 26-19 vote in August the State Senate passed an online authorization bill sports betting It would allow betting on professional, collegiate, amateur and electronic sports.

Since then, Saine has spoken to members of the House of Representatives and believes a majority of them would vote for legalization.

“I think we’re going to see sports betting this year,” Saine said. “It’s happening. We need to make sure North Carolina gets our share of that revenue.”

Under the bill, which passed the Senate, the state would impose a tax of 8 percent on adjusted gross receipts and charge royalties to companies that would operate.

An analysis by bipartisan Legislature staffers found that the bill would generate between $8 million and $24 million annually, significantly less than other estimates. State lawmakers supporting the proposal have said it would bring in around $50 million annually.

Cooper and Saine said the tax and fee structure is part of ongoing negotiations.

Cooper said the goal is to “make sure the state taxpayers get their share of it.”

According to the American Gaming Association, sports betting in some form has been legalized in 30 states and Washington, DC

North Carolina already allows in-person sports betting, but only on tribal lands. Neighboring states of Tennessee and Virginia are among those that have legalized online sports betting.

While there is bipartisan support for the idea, there is also bipartisan opposition.

The proposal has raised concern among conservative groups who fear legalization would lead to an increase in problem gambling and other societal consequences.

“All these social issues, these issues that come with gambling, that’s what we’re really concerned about,” John Rustin, president of the NC Family Policy Council, told CBS 17 as the Senate passed the bill. “Of course, because it’s a gambling bill, there’s a massive financial interest behind this legislation.”

Some Democrats have expressed concerns that the law would disproportionately hit the most vulnerable and those who can least afford it.

“It’s a wild expansion of gambling in North Carolina,” State Rep. Deb Butler (D-New Hanover) told her peers at a meeting this fall.

Saine said his goal is to vote on the version of the law in the spring.

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