Is Legal Mobile Sports Betting Finally Coming to North Carolina?

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In recent weeks, lawmakers in Kansas and Maine were able to successfully pass the proper legislation to legalize sports betting. With the annual legislative session coming to a close, lawmakers in Missouri and Minnesota once again came up short of that goal.

One state still going through the process is North Carolina. Retail sports betting has been legal through sportsbooks in two tribal casinos in Cherokee and Murphy. More recently, there has been a strong push to pass a bill that would expand the industry to legal online sports betting as well.

Proponents of legal mobile sports betting in North Carolina believe the timing is right. Strong mobile sports betting markets in neighboring Tennessee and Virginia have caught every state lawmaker’s attention. The small retail market in the state cannot fill the huge void in added tax revenue.

North Carolina’s Senate started the effort to legalize online sports betting last year. SB 688 paved the way for as many as 12 mobile sportsbook operators in the state. US-based operators such as FanDuel, DraftKings and BetMGM would be able to offer their mobile sportsbook app in the state.

SB 688 went on to gain approval by the state Senate last August with a vote of 26-19. The next step of the process carried into this year’s legislative session. The issue is currently in the hands of the state House. Behind some strong bipartisan backing, their amended version of SB 688 is expected to pass before the end of the 2022 session on June 30.

The North Carolina House Commerce Committee had previously approved HB 631 by a vote of 12-4. That bill is now under consideration by the full House.

Similar to the current situation in Massachusetts, there are some issues between the state Senate and House bills. The Bay State needs some serious compromise by the two sides to get something done this year. However, lawmakers in the Tar Heel State should be able to resolve their differences.

Two of the main issues for both states are tax rates on sportsbook revenue and licensing fees. The common ground in North Carolina has settled on a modest 8% tax on online sports betting volume. This rate is much lower than many other states with legal mobile sportsbooks.

Licensing fees would start at $500,000 upfront. There would also be a $100,000 renewal fee imposed every five years. Once again, these figures are favorable to sportsbook operators as compared to other legal states.

Professional in-state sports teams would not be able to offer legal sports betting as operators. However, they would be able to offer sports betting lounges in their facilities where mobile bets could be placed. This list includes the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, NBA’s Charlotte Hornets and NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes.

Certain North Carolina lawmakers have different viewpoints on tax rates, licensing fees and pro team licensing. Yet, these discrepancies are not expected to get in the way of a compromise that will be acceptable to both sides.

Written by Dave Schwab, our US Sports Betting Industry Expert.

The featured image for this post was sourced on Getty Images.