The state House voted on Wednesday to legalize betting on horse racing, and professional and college sports. The governor favors the bill.
The legislature on Wednesday gave final approval to legalized sports betting throughout North Carolina, and the wagering is expected to send millions of dollars to Fayetteville State University and youth sports.
The vote in the Republican-controlled state House was 69-44. In the GOP-majority Senate on June 1, the vote was 37-11. Support and opposition were bipartisan.
Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has said in media reports he supports the gambling bill.
“I think this is something that has been going on,” Cooper said of gambling in an episode of the Ovies + Giglio sports podcast published Wednesday morning. But now it will be regulated, he said, “and it’ll create a lot of jobs and it’ll — it’ll help our economy,” he said.
Democratic Cumberland County House members Charles Smith, Marvin Lucas and Frances Jackson voted in favor of the bill; Republican Cumberland County House member Diane Wheatley voted against it.
In the June 1 Senate vote, Republican Sen. Tom McInnis, who represents parts of Moore and Cumberland counties, and Democratic Cumberland County Sen. Val Applewhite voted for the gambling bill.
North Carolina approved its state lottery in 2005. Meanwhile, casinos and sports gambling are legal on the Cherokee tribal lands in the mountains and at the Catawba tribe’s casino in Cleveland County west of Charlotte.
But other types of gambling are illegal.
Other NC gambling news: Legalized gambling in NC could pump money to Fayetteville State and Fayetteville Tech
If the governor signs the bill into law as expected, the following will become legal on Jan. 8, 2024:
- Live horse racing with wagering. (Horse racing without gambling has been legal.)
- Pari-mutuel betting. This is a form of gambling in which all the wagers are pooled, and the odds and potential payouts change with each wager, a legislative summary says. Pari-mutuel betting is most common in horse racing, the summary says, and also is used in dog racing and jai alai.
- Gambling on professional and college sports, including gambling via cell phones.
Five-year license fees for the industry would range from $30,000 to $1 million.
The gross revenues would be taxed at 18%.
By fiscal year 2027-28, the legislature’s staff estimates the state will get $100.6 million in taxes from the betting.
Among the uses for the revenue:
- $44.8 million (by fiscal 2027-28) for the state’s General Fund. This is the pot of money the legislature uses to pay for most government spending.
- $2 million for gambling addiction education and treatment programs.
- $1 million to North Carolina Amateur Sports to pay for youth sports equipment and facilities.
- A minimum of $300,000 each to 13 of the 17 University of North Carolina constituent institutions to support college athletic departments. By 2027-28, this is estimated to be $1.7 million each. The schools include Fayetteville State University and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
- $1 million for the North Carolina Outdoor Heritage Advisory Council to make grants to sports teams with travel expenses and grants to attract sporting events for nonprofessional athletes.
- Funding for the N.C. Major Events, Games, and Attractions Special Fund to encourage and attract major events. This is estimated to be $26.9 million in 2027-28.
As the passage of the bill became a foregone conclusion on Wednesday afternoon, only a few lawmakers spoke on it. Each said legalized gambling is a bad idea.
“I think we are really harming the integrity of pure sports,” said Democratic Rep. Marcia Morey of Durham. “By putting gambling in, people will now be more interested in the spread than they will be in the victory or defeat.”
Democratic state Rep. Pricey Harrison of Greensboro said the 18% tax rate violates the North Carolina Constitution, which caps income tax rates at 7%.
She also was troubled that the Senate added horse racing to the bill, citing that the Churchill Downs racetrack in Kentucky recently suspended races after 12 horses died and a report that 900 horses in horse racing died in 2022.
“This is an inhumane, terrible, terrible industry,” Harrison said.
Democratic Rep. Abe Jones of Wake County said gambling is a vice.
“Gambling preys on the weak. Many people are addicted to it, and it breaks up families,” he said.
Senior North Carolina reporter Paul Woolverton can be reached at 910-261-4710 and firstname.lastname@example.org.