NC Senate Votes to Legalize Sports Betting, House Expected to Pass the Measure

June 6, 2023 | Legislature

RALEIGH, NC (June 2, 2023) — According to local media reports sports betting legalization is nearing the finish line in North Carolina. Online and mobile sports gambling has been mostly illegal, though proponents of a legalization bill say it’s already happening. The bill passed the state Senate on Thursday 37-11. It now goes to the House, for a final vote to agree with changes. The News & Observer reported Speaker Tim Moore told reporters on Thursday that House members will vote on Tuesday and Wednesday to pass the measure.

It has had bipartisan support and opposition, with key lawmakers as sponsors. If it becomes law, the state could receive $8.5 million in revenue during the 2023-24 fiscal year, according to legislative analysis. The following year, the impact would be $36.1 million in revenue. Sen. Jim Burgin, an Angier Republican who opposed the bill, said during Wednesday’s debate that lawmakers should give the bill the test of, “Will it disappoint my mother?” Sen. Julie Mayfield, a Buncombe County Democrat, said the bill legalizes an activity recognized as an addiction. She called it “putting a casino in everybody’s pocket that they can access 24/7, 365.”

On Wednesday, it appeared the bill could be held up in the House as lawmakers try to combine it with other gambling legislation, before going to the desk of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. But Moore said Thursday he misspoke, and that the House would pass the bill as is. In February, Cooper said he thought lawmakers were working on a sports betting bill that would be “fair to the taxpayers, but also recognize this is something that’s going on anyway.” “So we might as well get benefit for our schools and our state out of it. So we’ll see how it goes,” Cooper said then. WHAT’S IN THE SPORTS GAMBLING BILL If it becomes law, the North Carolina Lottery Commission will regulate sports betting, similar to how it’s done in Virginia. Two other neighboring states, Virginia and Tennessee, have legalized sports wagering, and South Carolina is considering it. One change by the Senate could affect the start date: rather than on Jan. 8, 2024, as the House first passed it, the latest version would have the lottery commission choose a start date within a year of it becoming law.

The bill would tax operators’ gross wagering revenue at 18%. North Carolina’s historically Black colleges and universities and several other UNC System schools would receive funding. It would remain illegal to bet on youth sports. Only people 21 and older would be able to make sports wagers. Sen. Lisa Grafstein, a Raleigh Democrat, said legalizing sports wagering “really just provides a monopoly to some large-scale gambling operations that operate nationally.”


The House passed the bill in March with more than 50 sponsors, both Democrats and Republicans. It passed the House on a final vote of 66-45. In 2022, a different version of the bill passed the Senate but failed by one vote in the House. House Bill 347 has four key sponsors: Rep. Jason Saine, the powerful budget chair and a Lincolnton Republican; Rep. Zack Hawkins, a Durham Democrat; Majority Leader John Bell, a Wayne County Republican; and Rep. Ashton Clemmons, a Greensboro Democrat.


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SOURCE: The News & Observer.

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