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North Carolina House approves sports betting bill. Here's what happens next

Legalized sports betting passed the House Tuesday, meaning it's just one vote away from going to Gov. Roy Cooper's desk to become law.

RALEIGH, N.C. — Legalized sports gambling in North Carolina cleared one of its last legislative hurdles Tuesday as the House accepted changes made by the Senate that include adding horse racing to the betting mix and raising the state's cut of wagering revenues.

The chamber must agree to the altered measure one more time Wednesday for the Republican-controlled General Assembly to finalize the legislation and send it to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who has expressed support for authorizing and regulating sports wagering.

Opponents of the current bill remain worried about how a large expansion of gambling beyond the current state lottery would increase addictions, harming families and low-income residents.

The die appeared cast with Tuesday's 67-42 vote, which came nearly a year after a coalition of social conservatives and liberals in the House scuttled a previous sports wagering measure.

But a new group of elected legislators took their seats in January. They heard from bill supporters who said betting on games was already happening underground or offshore, and that it was best for the state to control the activity and tax it. Nearly half of the House members became co-sponsors of a new bill that the chamber approved in March. Bipartisan support has remained strong in the Senate, leading to votes of approval there last week.

There was no debate Tuesday, which House Speaker Tim Moore attributed later to scheduling conflicts for legislators. He anticipated debate Wednesday, but the outcome of a second such concurrence vote rarely changes.

Asked earlier Tuesday whether he would sign the sports gambling measure into law once it reached his desk, Cooper told reporters “I am generally in support for the sports-betting legislation. But we’re continuing to look at it.”

Momentum for licensing gambling on professional, college and Olympic-style sports took off as lobbyists for the sports wagering industry and professional sports franchises that stand to profit pushed for the idea in the ninth-largest state. About half of the states allow mobile or online sports betting, according to the American Gaming Association. Legal sports gambling in North Carolina is available right now at the state’s only three casinos, which are operated by two American Indian tribes.

With this bill in place, the North Carolina Lottery Commission will award 12 licenses for operators to take online sports bets for any adult in North Carolina.

Additionally, eight facilities in the state will be able to operate a sportsbook:

  • Bank of America Stadium
  • Spectrum Center
  • Charlotte Motor Speedway
  • Quail Hollow Country Club
  • North Wilkesboro Speedway
  • PNC Arena
  • WakeMed Soccer Park
  • Sedgefield Country Club

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Adults with wagering accounts could bet online through computers or mobile phones. But proposed sportsbooks offered at or near pro sports venues, race tracks and golf courses could take cash bets from anyone over 21. Horse-race betting would be allowed through separate gambling operators.

The legislation would tax sports wagering at a rate equal to 18% of gross betting revenue minus winnings. The earlier proposal in the House set a similar 14% tax with more deductions.

The Senate also added UNC-Charlotte, Appalachian State, and East Carolina to the list of universities that will receive $300,000 annually from license fees and taxes collected on the bill.

The list of schools that will receive money is:

  • UNC-Charlotte
  • Appalachian State
  • East Carolina University
  • NC A&T University
  • NC Central University
  • UNC-Asheville
  • UNC-Greensboro
  • UNC-Pembroke
  • UNC-Wilmington
  • Western Carolina University
  • Winston-Salem University

The bill also allocates $2 million to the NC Department of Health and Human Services, $1 million to North Carolina Amateur Sports, and $1 million to the North Carolina Heritage Advisory Council. 

Online sports gambling was legalized after a 2018 Supreme Court decision. Since then, 29 states have legalized online sports betting.

North Carolina's attempts to legalize online sports betting began in 2019. The Senate passed a sports betting bill in 2021 but the measure failed by a single vote in the House in 2022. Sports gambling is currently only allowed at three tribal casinos.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Playing the lottery is a form of gambling. If you are concerned about your gambling or worried about a friend, you can call the NC Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-877-718-5543. You can also contact the National Helpline at 1-800-522-4700. 

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