The Tar Heel State is now one step away from having legal sports betting. On Monday, the House voted to authorize sports betting at a pair of casinos. However, the state still has a long way to go before full-blown legal sports betting is available everywhere.
North Carolina has moved to legalize sports betting as the House voted 90-27 to approve it at two Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian casinos. The state also approved them to offer off-track horse betting. The last step will be for the bill to get a signature from Gov. Roy Cooper. He’ll have 30 days to think about whether he wants to approve or veto the bill.
At this point, it’s expected that he will sign the bill into law, although it’s far from certain. Cooper is a Democrat and the House and Senate are held by Republicans, so party politics could still come into play. However, this bill has bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate and is not controversial – besides, the votes are there to override any veto.
Should everything go as planned, the state is expecting to receive about $11 million a year in revenues from the Cherokee along with another $1 million in taxes. That’s a generous amount of money that should encourage the governor to approve the bill.
Though this is a good first step for the state, it’s still a long way away from where sports bettors would like the scene in North Carolina to be. The two casinos that will allow sports betting are not close to any major cities such as Raleigh and Charlotte. It’s nice that sports bettors now have the opportunity to bet on games but most North Carolina residents would still have to drive for hours to place a single bet.
SB 154 only allows for sports betting at the tribal casinos with no mobile or online wagering. Beyond that, the state is still reticent to permit daily fantasy. Members of both parties weren’t particularly thrilled with the prospect of allowing it as they’re not overly familiar with it. The bill also left out Video Lottery Terminals as they’ll continue to study the prospect of adding those later.
Meanwhile, the Senate delayed a scheduled vote on SB 574, a more wide-ranging bill which would establish a state gaming commission. That bill would see the state’s regulatory bodies all fall under one structure, which could lead to the expansion of legal sports betting and other forms of gaming in North Carolina.
At the end of the day, it’s a first step for North Carolina and now they can be added to the list of states that have legalized sports betting in some shape or form. However, they still have a long way to go before sports betting is fully wide open and readily available in the fashion that customers really seek.