North Carolina could soon join the trend toward legal sports betting, ahead of some states that are bigger and more populated.
The bill pitched by North Carolina lawmakers a week ago would let two casinos in the state legally take sports bets.
SB 154 contains few details on tax rates or other major regulatory provisions. However, it puts limits on bets in the casinos that have been pitched in the bill, Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel. The issue with the limit is that it would hamper sports betting and the revenue generated will be less than many other states.
The two Harrah casinos are a three-plus hour drive from the state's major population areas, including Charlotte, the Triangle and Triad. The casinos are in rural western North Carolina.
And Issues remain because 100 pieces of legislation are under consideration by the Senate Committee on Rules and Operations, where the gaming bill now sits. The bill has plenty of hoops to get through during the 2019 legislative season, which might extend to June.
Still, a bill allowing two casinos to allow sports betting is a major step and would go along way in terms of gaming in the state.
Just the bill's existence made headlines in the state. North Carolina's strong political and cultural influence from conservative groups means any form of gambling likely will face opposition.
But there is support already from some top leaders.
Letting casinos offer the games and sports bets is "perfectly appropriate," said Senate Majority Leader Phil Berger, according to the News & Observer in Raleigh.
In the bipartisan group of Senate cosponsors, Deputy President Pro Tempore Ralph Hise, Majority Whip Jerry Tillman and Democratic Whip Jay Chaudhuri also support the bill. Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, who own both casinos, support SB 154. Other states such as Connecticut and Arizona have had issues with the Native American owned casinos, so support from North Carolina's tribes certainly helps.
Potential gaming competition surrounds North Carolina. Virginia and South Carolina are looking into passing sports betting bills, perhaps this year. That could affect North Carolina's gaming income unless the state passes its measure soon.
New Jersey is a perfect example of a state that passed its bill swiftly and earned massive benefits from surrounding states including the massive population from New York.