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House panel advances bills to legalize online sports betting in North Carolina

State lawmakers will discuss a bill that would make online sports wagering legal in North Carolina, but it wouldn't start until later than previous estimates.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — North Carolina lawmakers approved two bills to legalize online sports betting Tuesday, moving the bills closer to passage in the final days of the current legislative session. 

The House Judiciary 1 Committee approved two sports gambling bills Tuesday with minor adjustments. The amendments double the amount of money to $2 million annually for problem gambling treatment and prohibit wagering on amateur sports, defined largely as Olympic events in the bills, according to WRAL-TV in Raleigh. The bills passed the committee with six yes votes, three no votes and one abstention.

Both bills are scheduled for two more House committees Wednesday and could be presented to the full chamber for votes as early as Wednesday night.

Sports betting is currently allowed in North Carolina, but only at a physical casino. Two Cherokee casinos in western North Carolina accept sports wagers currently. The legislation is supported by the Charlotte Hornets, Carolina Hurricanes and Carolina Panthers, as well as Charlotte Motor Speedway, WRAL reported. 

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Senate Bill 38 calls for businesses that participate in sports wagering to pay a 14% privilege tax on gross wagering revenue minus winnings paid out plus promotional/bonus credits and federal excise tax. The original proposal called for an 8% tax rate. 

The legislation would authorize gambling on professional, college, electronic and amateur sports. Taking bets on youth sports, defined as events in which the majority of competitors are under 18 or are competing on behalf of preschool, elementary, middle or secondary schools, is not permitted. 

If passed, legalized online sports gambling could begin no earlier than Jan 1., 2023. The date in the bill is later than previous estimates, which suggested sports betting could be legalized in time for the upcoming football season. 

Flashpoint is a weekly in-depth look at politics in Charlotte, North Carolina, South Carolina, and beyond with host Ben Thompson. Listen to the podcast weekly.
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