Sports betting is back on the table for lawmakers in North Carolina, and this time with better odds.
Retail sports betting is currently available at two tribal casinos in North Carolina, operated by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians at the Harrah’s Cherokee casinos in Cherokee and Murphy.
For sports fans and supporters of the bill like Jacob Diehl, last year’s failed sports betting bill was a disappointment.
“I was a little hopeful the bill would pass last year,” said Diehl.
One of the bill’s main sponsors, Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln) is hoping for a better outcome in this year’s session.
“A lot of the members have taken the time to become better informed,” Saine said. “We’ve had a pretty good vote count. I think we’re up about 54-55 sponsors of the bill. Of 160 people, that is pretty substantial. I think we’re moving forward. I think it’s a much different atmosphere from last time.”
Last year, the legalization of sports betting in North Carolina was backed by Gov. Roy Cooper.
WRAL, Sports Investigative Reporter Brian Murphy said all indications are the governor would sign the bill now under consideration.
“His two-year budget included about $85 million in tax revenue from sports gambling,” Murphy said.
Murphy explained why North Carolina trails some other states in legalizing sports bets.
“North Carolina is just a more conservative state than some of the states that have legalized sports mobile betting,” said Murphy.
“Last year was a very chaotic session. This bill was amended and changed by the committee and changed in the floor of the House,” Murphy said.
He added, “One thing to consider is that a lot of the House lawmakers have changed – about a quarter of them are different from last year after the election. And then the pro sports teams and others who are really pushing this have been lobbying very hard in the interim to explain the issue better than they did last year and showing lawmakers more data.”
Despite objections to the bill, Saine said that North Carolinians are already betting on sports, and changing the law would better guarantee customer safety.
“Quite frankly, I think the bill puts a spotlight and allows from some real transparency to understand better what sports wagering is looking like in our state,” he said.
Deihl believes passing the sports betting bill will transform the fan experience.
“Something like F1 that’s growing, I don’t watch it, but if betting was involved, maybe I’d look into it,” he said. “It’ll be fun and give me a reason to watch it.”
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