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Sports betting bill heads to North Carolina Senate



NORTH CAROLINA (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – Sports wagering has been passed in the North Carolina State House, but its prospects in the State Senate are optimistic, but not immediately clear.

The bill, also known as House Bill 347, would legalize sports wagering beyond what is currently allowed at three tribal casinos in the state. It was approved Wednesday in the State House and has passed a first reading within the state senate before being referred to a committee.

On the passage of the bill, the main sponsor, Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln County) said, “I’m excited to have two very strong votes in favor of this legislation and look forward to taking this bill to the Senate for consideration.”

Last year, state senators voted for legalizing sports betting, but the State House voted against it.

“Last year, I believe the tax rate was 8%. This year, it’s 14%,” said Christopher Boan, an analyst for Group and “That may not mean much, but it’s a huge difference.  Other than that, there’s a change in some licensing.”

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North Carolina currently allows for only three sportsbook sites at the tribal casinos in Kings Mountain, Cherokee, and Murphy. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, which operate two casinos on lands in western N.C., have expressed support for the legislation.

“We are encouraged to see this bipartisan bill advance,” said Principal Chief Richard Sneed in a statement Thursday to Queen City News. “We applaud legislators’ diligent efforts to ensure that citizens all across the state can safely enjoy the same high-quality sports betting experience they have come to expect at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel.”

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Boan noted the support and opposition for sports wagering in the General Assembly, noting that there is bipartisan support and bipartisan opposition for bills of this type, with the split largely along moral grounds.

Proponents of the bill noted, this week, that revenue growth in gambling and other areas looks promising.  Opponents have noted that any plans for sports gambling need to be looked at “more thoughtfully.”

N.C. Governor Roy Cooper, however, has previously indicated large support for sports wagering in the state and said he would sign legislation legalizing it.

Despite a step advancing in the process, lawmakers noted that it may be weeks or months before the vote comes to the State Senate on the bill.

As a result, Boan said gambling services, while optimistic, are not holding their breath.

“If you’re an operator, you’ve got to wait and see what they’re going to put out there,” he said. “Just because it says one thing in the bill, it doesn’t mean that’s how it’s going to wind up looking when it launches on day one.”

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