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At least 30 states have legalized sports betting. Will North Carolina be next?

If passed, Senate Bill 688 would legalize sports gambling for people 21 and over. Supporters say it could bring an extra $50 million without raising taxes.

RALEIGH, N.C. — After months on hold, a bill that would legalize sports betting in North Carolina is making progress in the General Assembly. 

Senate Bill 688, which cleared the Senate three months ago, made its first step through the House this week. The bill would legalize gambling on sports for people 21 and over. Bets would be taxed at 8% and regulated by the state lottery commission. It could bring an estimated $50 million a year to North Carolina, according to the bill's sponsors.

Supporters of the bill don't expect it to become law this year and it's unclear if the bill would clear the House, which is controlled by socially conservative Republicans, as well as some Democrats who are opposed.  The bill's sponsors said in April it's less about supporting gambling and more about finding a way to bring in revenue for the state without raising taxes.

"I think that we've got to find creative ways to fund what we need for education," Sen. Paul Lowe, a co-sponsor of the bill, told WCNC Charlotte. 

Jason Saine, a Republican from Lincoln County, said the bill isn't being fast-tracked by House leadership. Instead, Saine said the bill was introduced so lawmakers would "have something to think about" over the upcoming holiday break. Saine said he has friends who claim to bet on sports now, despite it being illegal in North Carolina. 

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At least 30 other states have legalized sports betting since 2018 when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law that banned it in most states.

In 2019, Gov. Roy Cooper signed a bill to study the impacts of sports gambling in North Carolina. The study was commissioned to review how much money legalized gambling could bring to the state, the positive and negative impacts, and how it would be regulated. 

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