NC sports betting bill headed for Senate vote on Wednesday

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After a spell with little movement since the House approved it on March 29, the bill to legalize commercial sports betting in North Carolina roared back to life on Tuesday, breezing through two committee votes, setting the measure up for a Senate floor vote on Wednesday.

Both the Senate Finance Committee and the Rules Committee approved HB347 and the Senate is set to vote on the bill Wednesday afternoon. Since the bill will create a new stream of tax revenue for the state, the Senate will need to vote on it twice before it is approved.

Also, since amendments were added to the bill, it will need to go back to the House for concurrence before it can be sent to Gov. Roy Cooper for his signature.

The general gist of the bill, which allows for up to 12 licensed online sportsbook operators in the state, remains intact. The tax rate, which was set at 14%, has been bumped up to 18% via an amendment.

The updated fiscal note accompanying the bill projected $22 million in revenue in the first year and just over $100 million in tax revenue by 2028. The bill also sets aside $2 million annually for gambling addiction and treatment services in addition to an expanded list of university athletic departments each receiving $300,000.

The attempt to add historical horse racing in the state has been removed.

One interesting amendment to the bill allows for deposits via cryptocurrency, which is something currently only Wyoming offers as an option. Most states have avoided cryptocurrency because of the anti-money laundering issues that come with trying to accept blockchain currency.

Another important amendment makes the launch of sports betting in the state more flexible. Rather than the firm date of Jan. 8, 2024, the amended bill now says launch will be “no later than 12 months after the act becomes law.”

The Senate convenes at 4pm on Wednesday where the bill should receive a second reading, potentially more amendments, and the first of the two votes it needs to advance.