CHARLOTTE, N.C. — North Carolina lawmakers expect a "renewed effort" to legalize online sports betting in 2023 as more states nationwide allow legal wagering on games.
During an appearance in Charlotte on Monday, North Carolina Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, a Republican, said he believes there will be enough support to bring online betting to North Carolina. The state senate passed a bill last summer but it fell apart in the House amid concerns from critics that sanctioning sports gambling would create addicts, leading to increases in theft, embezzlement, and debt.
Berger expects new legislation to start in the House and make its way to the Senate this time around. He also hinted that those interested in gambling will find other avenues to bet on sports.
"It is something I believe has the support of the majority of both chambers," Berger said. "It is something the public overall supports. If you have a telephone, you already have access to it. You're not supposed to, but it's there."
“Sports betting in North Carolina is already a $1.7 billion industry," Sarah Crawford, District 66 said. "It's really time that we regulate that and make sure it's safe for consumers, and also ensure that North Carolina can benefit from the revenue that would be gained from that.”
Sports gambling took off in the states after a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Twenty states and the District of Columbia now offer mobile sports betting, including the neighboring states of Virginia and Tennessee, according to the American Gaming Association, while 28 states and D.C. have some kind of in-person betting. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians opened on-site betting operations last year at its two far-western North Carolina casinos thanks to earlier legislation.
North Carolina is currently an untapped market for sports betting, with several major-league sports franchises, including the NFL's Carolina Panthers, NASCAR, and college sports.
“A lot of other states are moving forward, and I would hate for North Carolina to miss out on that opportunity," President of the American Ultimate Disc League Steve Hall said.
Hall says betting has become intertwined with the games itself but knows it can become a problem for some gamblers.
“It’s documented, people can get addicted like they can get addicted to a lot of other things in life, so I think we as the sports world do need to spend time resources and money on educating fans," Hall said.
Crawford say they do have a plan to enhance education and resources on gambling if sports betting becomes legal.
"I think the prospects are pretty good," Berger said. "We just have to see."
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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