Sports betting bill faces better odds this year at NC House

Sports betting is back on the table for North Carolina lawmakers, and this time with better odds.

Retail sports betting is currently available at two tribal casinos in North Carolina, operated by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians at Harrah’s Cherokee Casinos in Cherokee and Murphy.

The bipartisan House bill would allow online sports betting on professional and college sports teams across the state. In the previous session, efforts to approve online sports betting legislation in the House of Representatives failed by a vote.

For sports fans and supporters of the bill like Jacob Diehl, the failure of last year’s sports betting bill was a disappointment.

“I had some hope that the bill would pass last year,” Diehl said.

One of the bill’s main sponsors, Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln) is hoping for a better outcome at this year’s session.

“A lot of members took the time to educate themselves more,” Saine said. “We had a pretty good vote count. I think we’re about 54-55 sponsors away from the bill. Out of 160 people, that’s pretty big. I think we are making progress. I think it’s a very different atmosphere than last time.

Last year, the legalization of sports betting in North Carolina was supported by Governor Roy Cooper.

WRAL, Sports Investigative Reporter Brian Murphy said there is every indication the governor will sign the bill currently under consideration.

“His two-year budget included about $85 million in tax revenue from sports betting,” Murphy said.

Murphy explained why North Carolina lags behind other states in legalizing sports betting.

“North Carolina is just a more conservative state than some of the states that have legalized mobile sports betting,” Murphy said.

“Last year was a very chaotic session. This bill was amended and changed through committee and changed on the floor of the House,” Murphy said.

He added: “One thing to consider is that many House lawmakers have changed – about a quarter of them are different from last year after the election. And then professional sports teams and others who are really pushing this have been pushing really hard in the meantime to explain the problem better than they did last year and show lawmakers more data.

Despite objections to the bill, Saine said North Carolinians are already betting on sports and changing the law would better ensure customer safety.

“Quite frankly, I think the bill shines a light and allows, through real transparency, a better understanding of what sports betting looks like in our state,” he said.

Deihl believes the passing of the sports betting law will transform the fan experience.

“Something like F1 developing, I don’t watch it, but if bets were involved maybe I would look into it,” he said. “It will be fun and give me a reason to watch it.”

The sports betting bill is on the agenda of the House Commerce Committee on Tuesday. Online sports betting would begin in January 2024 if the bill passes.

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