This week the North Carolina legislature took a monumental step towards legal regulated sports betting by approving legislation that now heads to Gov. Roy Cooper for final signage.

The NC Senate voted 37-11 on Thursday in favor of House Bill 347 after making minor adjustments. The House, which originally passed the framework 64-45 in March, expects to quickly concur early next week.

Industry experts fully anticipate Gov. Cooper signing the bipartisan bill into law shortly thereafter. Enactment triggers a January 8, 2024 effective date that requires regulators have online betting and retail sportsbooks operational within 12 months per legislative mandate.

In other words, sports fans can start getting excited for a New Year’s 2024 present as North Carolina embraces regulated gambling channels befitting passionate local fanbases.

Of course plenty of legwork remains for the NC Lottery Commission between bill passage and launch day. Critical items like tax rates, license approvals and problem gambling resources must get squared away over the coming year.

But North Carolina now appears firmly on track to unveil mobile and land-based sports wagering by early 2025 at the latest. And leading operators stand ready to unleash localized promotions befitting a crown-jewel betting market.

This week’s legislature action cements expectations that marquee sportsbook platforms FanDuel North Carolina and DraftKings North Carolina will soon battle to acquire North Carolinian bettors. The legislation allows for 12 total online skins suggesting top brands will jockey aggressively for market share in a state with few licenses available.

Up to eight retail sportsbooks can also be housed at major professional or collegiate venues per the bill language. The hybrid model incorporates brick-and-mortar outlets to help drive adoption while keeping mobile betting fully permitted statewide.

When books open, perhaps as soon as March 2024 to capitalize on March Madness, analysts project over $6 billion in first year handle. Early revenue forecasts sit around $600 million as North Carolina immediately joins mature markets like New Jersey and New York in significance.

A portion of proceeds fund problem gambling education, youth sports grants and athletic department distributions under the legislation. The state will allocate about 20 percent towards attracting major events like NCAA Tournament games or even the Super Bowl.

As final legislative work wraps up in the days ahead, North Carolina sits months away from unveiling a game-changing regulated betting marketplace. HB 347’s impending passage marks the culmination of years of legislative jockeying to modernize gambling and capture sports betting demand legally.

While regulatory decisions remain, the NC Lottery Commission now carries a clear mandate to construct sports wagering rules allowing marquee brands to hit the ground running come 2024.

For North Carolina sports fans long restricted to bracket pools and pick ’em contests, stay tuned for your mobile outlet to wager legally arriving in months. At long last, the dawn of regulated sports gambling nears Tar Heel state borders.

✅ Fact Checked on January 17, 2024 by Ken Weaver