North Carolina Legalizes Sports Betting at Tribal Casinos
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper signed into law on Friday a measure that makes in-person sports betting legal at the two tribal casinos in the state. The law, though, limits sports wagering to only those sites at the Eastern Band of Cherokee casinos in Cherokee and Murphy.
It was hoped the governor would have a second, more significant bill to sign that would create a state gaming commission and study expanded gambling options, but that legislation has been delayed and is still in the Senate after passing the House easily.
North Carolina Law Extremely Limited
The North Carolina House had voted early this month 90-27 on the bill that Cooper signed on Friday. It followed a similar one-sided vote in the state Senate back in April (43-7), but the process took several months longer than supporters would have hoped for.
The bill, one of the most limited since the Supreme Court struck down the federal ban in May 2018, simply reclassifies sports betting, allowing the Cherokees the right to take bets at their casinos, though supporters hope it leads to more accessibility in North Carolina in the future.
According to the Charlotte Observer between $1 million to $1.5 million in revenue could be generated from the tribal casinos with the addition of sports betting and horse racing betting. North Carolina law already lets the casinos offer live poker and slot machines.
Stops & Starts in the Process
While not assured, Cooper’s signature was expected on the tribal bill because of the veto-proof margins of the votes in both houses.
The two bills, the one now signed into law and the second bill awaiting additional Senate action, had made little progress until Cooper vetoed the legislature’s budget in July because, in part, it didn’t include Medicaid expansion provisions. That forced the legislature to extend its session as they renegotiated the budget.
With the additional time and unexpected lifeline for the proposals, lawmakers in both chambers eventually passed the sports betting bill July 16.
The second bill would restructure oversight for North Carolina limited gambling options, including the lottery, bingo and raffles, and would crack open the door for more dramatic options by charging the a newly formed commission to “study the feasibility of authorizing new gaming activities,” including sports betting and steeplechase and how those options would complement existing gaming offerings.
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