The Journey to Legalizing Sports Betting in North Carolina; A Comprehensive Overview

In North Carolina, the path towards legalizing North Carolina sports betting has been quite eventful and complex. As the state’s lawmakers get ready to reconvene and discuss a crucial bill regarding mobile North Carolina sports betting, it’s important to delve into the intricate history and significant developments that have shaped the gambling landscape in the Tar Heel State.

Senate Bill 688; A Game Changing Proposal

Last year, Senate Bill 688 made substantial progress by successfully passing through the Senate. However, it faced some obstacles in the House of Representatives. This bill goes beyond simply legalizing online betting; it also aims to expand the availability of physical North Carolina sports betting establishments. It places emphasis on professional sports stadiums and arenas, indicating a potential shift in how gambling is approached within the state.

Looking ahead, there are expectations that the House will revisit this bill during an upcoming session. However, it is anticipated that there will be amendments made to certain aspects of the original bill, particularly regarding tax rates for operators. Governor Roy Cooper, a supporter of legal mobile North Carolina sports betting, has expressed a preference for ensuring that the state receives a larger portion of revenue generated from this activity.

North Carolina’s Gambling Timeline; Important Events

The history of gambling in North Carolina is marked by several significant milestones;

  • In November 1997, Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort opened its doors, representing a major moment in the state’s gambling history. Located just over an hour away from Asheville, this casino marked North Carolina’s entry into the world of casinos.
  • On August 31, 2005, a crucial moment occurred when the bill to establish the North Carolina Education Lottery passed in the Senate after a closely contested vote in the House. The tie breaking vote by Lt. Gov. Bev Perdue and Governor Mike Easley signing it into law were instrumental in establishing the lottery.
  • March 30, 2006, saw the commencement of operations for the North Carolina Lottery, ushering in a new era for gambling in the state. A couple of months later, Powerball sales were introduced to enhance the appeal of the lottery.
  • September 28, 2015, witnessed an expansion of gambling offerings with the opening of Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino in Murphy. Situated near the South Carolina and Tennessee borders in southwestern North Carolina, this establishment brought casino gaming closer to residents.
  • Finally, on May 14, 2018,
    In a significant ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court gave states the authority to determine their position on North Carolina sports betting, leading to potential legal changes across the country.
  • On July 26, 2019, Governor Roy Cooper signed a notable bill that permitted tribal lands to commence North Carolina sports betting legally. However, it took almost two years before the first sports bet could be placed within the state.
  • By January 2020, Governor Cooper had established a revenue sharing agreement with the Catawba Indian Nation. This agreement paved the way for a new casino in Kings Mountain. Nevertheless, this development faced opposition from the Cherokee tribe.
  • In November 2020 and January 2021 respectively, Tennessee and Virginia launched online North Carolina sports betting services in their respective states. This created a competitive environment surrounding North Carolina.
  • On March 18, 2021, in collaboration with Caesars Entertainment Inc., “The Book” sportsbook was unveiled at both Cherokee casinos in North Carolina. This marked an important milestone for North Carolina sports betting within the state.
  • Subsequently, on April 7, 2021, bipartisan Senators Jim Perry and Paul A. Lowe Jr introduced a bill proposing an expansion of North Carolina sports betting in North Carolina. The proposed expansion included provisions for mobile licenses and online licenses specifically for tribal casinos.
  • Amidst ongoing construction of the Two Kings Casino Resort in July 2021, the Catawba tribe opened a temporary facility in Kings Mountain.
    The decision to make this move was disputed by the Cherokee tribe.
  • In August 2021, Senate Bill 688, which aimed to facilitate online North Carolina sports betting, barely passed in the Senate, signaling a shift towards more lenient gambling laws.
  • By September 2021, SB 688 was awaiting approval for a House vote while it remained under consideration in the House Committee on Commerce.
  • Come November 2021, the bill successfully cleared the House Committee on Commerce, inching closer to its enactment as law.
  • Looking ahead to 2022, as lawmakers reconvene for a short session in mid May, there is optimism that the bill will ultimately be passed. Governor Cooper’s support for the bill and his call for a higher state tax rate on North Carolina sports betting highlight an evolving perspective towards gambling within the state.

The Economic Implications of SB 688

The potential economic impact of SB 688 is considerable. Estimates suggest that North Carolina could generate over $20 million in additional tax revenue through legalized gambling. However, there has been debate surrounding the proposed tax rate outlined in the bill. Unlike neighboring states such as Tennessee and Virginia that have set their rates at 20% and 15% respectively; SB 688 proposes a relatively modest tax rate of just 8%. In a conversation with sports reporter Luke DeCock, Governor Cooper expressed his belief that the state should receive a larger share of the gambling revenue.

The current situation of North Carolina sports betting in North Carolina is quite limited. At the moment, it is only allowed in two Cherokee casinos that are located far away from the urban areas of the state. Due to this limited accessibility, people from North Carolina often have to travel to Virginia or Tennessee, especially during big events like March Madness. Additionally, North Carolina residents looking for a North Carolina sports betting promo code or North Carolina betting app regularly search for options like an ESPN Bet North Carolina promo code, however fully legal options remain unavailable within the state at this time. However, if SB 688 is passed and online North Carolina sports betting becomes legal, there could be a significant change in this scenario. It would bring North Carolina sports betting closer to the residents of North Carolina and might reduce the number of people going to neighboring states to place their bets.

To summarize, the future of North Carolina sports betting in North Carolina seems promising with potential major changes on the horizon. The passing of SB 688 could open up a new chapter in the gambling history of the state and position North Carolina as an important player in the regional North Carolina sports betting market.


✅ Fact Checked on January 27, 2024 by Ken Weaver