Time Running Out For North Carolina Sports Betting In 2022
David Caraviello | 3 mins
Fans of sports betting in North Carolina currently have very limited options—a pair of Harrah’s-branded tribal casinos in the state’s western fringe that offer only retail wagering through partnerships with Caesars Sportsbook.
Mobile sports betting continues to be illegal in the Old North State, and time is running out on lawmakers trying to change that before the 2022 football season.
Although the state Senate passed a bill in August of 2021 that would legalize sports betting, the House version of the bill has been stuck in committee, with the clock ticking on a current legislative session that ends June 30.
Although Gov. Roy Cooper has voiced his repeated support of sports betting, a lot would now have to happen in a very short period of time to get sports betting up and running in North Carolina before the end of this year.
When Could North Carolina Sports Betting Go Live?
The bill, HB 688, would authorize and regulate sports betting in North Carolina, licensing between 10 and 12 online operators and betting apps, and taxing gross revenue at 8%. The Senate version of the bill was introduced in April of 2021 and revised four times before being approved by the Senate in a 26-19 vote on Aug. 19, 2021.
The concurrent House bill was also filed in April of 2021, and has picked up bipartisan support from three primary sponsors and 16 associate sponsors. But with the bill needing to pass through three committees on the way to Cooper’s desk, the current holdup would seem to make it difficult, if not impossible, to get the bill approved, signed into law, and have a sports betting infrastructure in place by the NFL season opener on Sept. 8.
States the size of North Carolina typically look for at least a six-month period in between legalization and launch of the sports betting market.
The sports betting bill was not addressed in the most recent session of the House Judiciary Committee on June 2, which does not bode well for optimists who had hoped for sports betting in time for September's NFL kickoff. Primary sponsor Rep. Jason Saine of Lincoln County, north of Charlotte, had wanted a vote on the bill this spring—but as the days wear on, a more realistic prospect may be approval in time for some late-season NFL betting at the earliest, if not a launch in 2023.
Should the bill eventually pass, sports betting would be overseen by the North Carolina Lottery Commission. And it would mark a notable expansion of sports betting in a state that has only allowed retail sports betting in tribal casinos since 2019.
Alternative Options for North Carolina Bettors
The conservative, southeastern corner of the U.S. has proven a tough nut for legal sports betting to crack, with the delay in North Carolina coming on top of legal setbacks to sports betting in Florida and legislators in Georgia refusing to vote on a sports betting bill in 2022. There’s also little traction in South Carolina, although one candidate for governor, Democrat Joe Cunningham, has voiced his support of sports betting.
Should North Carolina be unable to make a late push to get sports betting approved this legislative session, sports bettors in the Old North State will have to continue to turn to neighboring Virginia and Tennessee this football season. Virginia features 10 sportsbooks (though wagering on the commonwealth’s college teams remains illegal), while Tennessee offers five operators and no restrictions on wagering on in-state teams.