Senators may approve a bill legalizing esports and online sports betting in North Carolina by June 2. After that, HB347 needs agreement from the House. Then Gov. Roy Cooper can sign into law the measure that calls for a market launch date of Jan. 8, 2024.
If HB347 does receive two more readings, a Senate vote, and a concurrence by the House on the Senate’s changes to the bill, it can exit the North Carolina General Assembly this week.
That may mean residents of the ninth-most populous state can bet on the 2024 Super Bowl. However, legal sports betting may be more likely to reach a vote this week than the 12th-ranked Carolina Panthers are to reach the playoffs. Although, much like the legislative process, time will tell.
Meanwhile, legalizing esports betting is coming along for the ride. In North Carolina, video game tournaments can be big business already. So betting on the tournament outcomes may drive even more revenue.
Such optimism abounds among the Tar Heel State’s sports bettors today because HB347 moved through two committees, past opposing testimony from religious leaders, and may reach the Senate floor as early as tomorrow.
If HB347 does become law, a fiscal note says online gambling operators will pay an 18% tax rate. Lawmakers expect wagering tax and fee revenue to reach $22.1 million during Fiscal Year 2023 and climb to $100.6 million in Fiscal Year 2027.
Legalizing Esports, Online Sports Betting Seems Likely
Last year’s sports betting bill failed “by a lone vote in 2022,” notes Robert Linnehan of Saturday Down South.
However, HB347 is heading to the Senate floor with 52 bipartisan sponsors and a governor who’s promised to sign it into law.
Today, the proposed legislation passed through the Senate Finance Committee, then the Senate Rules and Operations Committee. “Reported favorably, as amended,” the measure moves to the Senate floor.
The measure introduced on March 13 by state Rep. Jason Saine, R-Lincoln, even has Senate leaders speaking on the record about their likely votes.
Brian Murphy, a WRAL sports investigative reporter, tweeted today:
[Senate President Pro Tempore Phil] Berger says he will support bill. expects a majority of GOP members to back it and says it will pass. So that’s the top 2 Republicans in Senate saying it will pass, if there were any question.
However, Murphy was pessimistic that the marketplace would launch on Jan. 8, 2024.
So North Carolina’s three tribal casinos that have been able to offer retail sportsbooks since 2021 may still be the primary beneficiaries of those Carolina Panthers bets.