In a landmark decision that marks a significant shift in the state's stance on gambling, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has signed a bill legalizing and regulating sports betting and horse racing into law. This move ushers in a new era for the ninth-largest state in the US, opening up a wealth of opportunities for revenue generation, job creation, and entertainment.
In a historic move, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has signed a bill that legalizes and regulates sports betting and horse racing in the state. This legislation, expected to expand gambling opportunities greatly, marks the beginning of a new era for North Carolina, the ninth-largest state in the US.
The bill-signing ceremony occurred at Spectrum Center, home to the NBA's Charlotte Hornets, which could house one of several anticipated sportsbooks allowed at or near professional sports venues as part of the new law. This is a significant step forward for the state, opening up new revenue generation and entertainment avenues.
Legalizing sports betting is expected to bring a substantial economic boost to North Carolina. With the potential to attract stronger in-state pro sports franchises and create new jobs, the law is seen as a win for the state's economy. Furthermore, the law is expected to align North Carolina with neighboring states like Tennessee and Virginia, which already allow mobile sports betting.
The bill's journey, House Bill 347, or the Sports Wagering Bill, was challenging. It passed the state House with a 69-44 vote and the Senate with a 37-11 vote. Despite opposition from a coalition of social conservatives and liberals who expressed concerns about the potential for increased gambling addiction, the bill found support among those who argued that regulating and taxing sports betting was the best way to control gambling that was otherwise happening underground or through offshore accounts.
The bill's passage represents a significant shift in the state's stance on gambling, which until now was limited to the state's three casinos operated by two American Indian tribes and a lottery that began in 2006.
The bill's journey also highlighted the changing attitudes towards sports betting in the state. Despite the initial opposition, the bill gained momentum as more legislators recognized the potential benefits of regulated sports betting. This shift in perspective was instrumental in the bill's eventual passage, demonstrating a growing acceptance of sports betting as a legitimate and potentially beneficial industry.
The new law directs the North Carolina Lottery Commission to issue as many as 12 interactive sports wagering licenses to entities offering mobile and online sports betting to customers who create accounts. However, anyone 21 or older could also make cash bets on professional, college, or Olympic-style sports at eight potential in-person betting locales associated with stadiums, arenas, golf courses, and racetracks. Betting could begin as early as January 8, 2024, or as late as mid-June 2024; In preparation for this exciting development, betting apps in North Carolina are fully equipped to launch their services, providing convenient and accessible platforms for enthusiastic bettors.
The law also includes provisions for horse racing betting, which will be permitted through separate licensing and accounts. This addition to the law expands the scope of legal betting in North Carolina beyond traditional sports, opening up new opportunities for bettors and the horse racing industry. Including horse racing in the law is a nod to the sport's popularity and potential as a source of revenue and entertainment.
Legalizing sports betting is expected to bring significant economic benefits to North Carolina. Governor Cooper stated at the bill-signing ceremony, "This is a historic moment for the state of North Carolina, and this will benefit our economy for generations to come."
The legislation will tax sports wagering at a rate equal to 18% of gross betting revenue minus distributed winnings. Legislative analysts estimate this will generate over $100 million in sports betting taxes annually within five years, resulting in $71 million in net revenues for state coffers.
Much of the sports wagering tax revenues would go to local, regional, and state athletics initiatives, athletic programs at most University of North Carolina system schools, and problem-gambling programs. Cooper expressed hope that more future proceeds would help public education.
While the new law opens up opportunities for sports betting, it also acknowledges the potential risks associated with gambling. To address these concerns, the bill stipulates that $2 million annually will go to the Department of Health and Human Services for gambling education and treatment programs. This money will come from taxes collected from bets, ensuring that as the state benefits from the new law, it also mitigates potential harm.
With the signing of this bill, North Carolina joins the ranks of 28 other states where mobile sports betting occurs or has been authorized. With the state preparing to roll out regulated sports betting and horse racing in the first half of next year, it stands on the cusp of a new era. The impact of this law will be watched closely, not only for its economic benefits but also for its social implications. As Governor Cooper said, this historic moment for North Carolina will shape the state's economy and society for generations to come.
The signing of the sports betting bill by Governor Roy Cooper heralds a new chapter for North Carolina. Despite facing opposition, the bill found support among those who saw the potential benefits of regulating and taxing sports betting. The new law, which allows for both online and in-person betting on professional, college, and Olympic-style sports and horse racing, is expected to bring significant economic benefits to the state. However, it also acknowledges the potential risks associated with gambling, allocating funds for gambling education and treatment programs. With North Carolina standing on the cusp of this new era, the impact of this law will be watched closely, shaping the state's economy and society for generations to come.