North Carolina Aims For Sports Betting Launch During Football Season

North Carolina Aims For Sports Betting Launch During Football Season

Supporters of a bill to legalize mobile sports betting in North Carolina “feel confident” it will pass soon, and hope wagering can happen in time for football season.

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The state’s NFL and NBA teams are backing a measure that would authorize 10 to 12 mobile apps. Bettors would be able to download these apps to wager on professional and collegiate sports anywhere in North Carolina.

State Sen. Paul Lowe, D-Forsyth, told WRAL-TV he believes supporters have “drummed up” enough votes for the bill to make its way out of the Legislature.

“I feel confident about it,” he said.

Last summer, the Senate approved the sports betting measure, Senate Bill 688, on a 26-19 vote. That vote sent the bill to the House of Representatives for consideration. It is awaiting action in the House.

Lawmakers returned to the legislative building in Raleigh on May 18 to finish voting during the even-year short session. This year, it ends June 30.

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Football Start Date Possible

Every year, football is usually the most heavily wagered sport in the country, especially games involving NFL teams.

States that launch sports betting programs sometimes attempt to go live before football season ends. Sports betting is legal and live in 30 states. 

Ronnie Johns, chairman of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, told Gambling.com he targeted an October New Orleans Saints game as the opening date for on-site sports betting in that state, knowing it would attract heavy betting. Mobile wagering was launched three months later, in time for the Feb. 13 Super Bowl this year.

In Ohio, legislators who helped a sports betting bill win approval late last year said they hoped wagering would be legal by the start of the 2022 football season. However, state gaming regulators recently said sports betting likely won’t start in Ohio until on or near Jan. 1, 2023.

The NFL preseason begins Aug. 4 at 8 p.m. ET with the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Las Vegas Raiders.

After three preseason games, the Carolina Panthers open their NFL regular season at home against the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 11. The Panthers have two regular season road games in early January 2023. 

State Rep. Jason Saine, R-Lincolnton, told betcarolina.com the regulatory process to get sports betting up running will take some time.

Saine said he “would love to have it before football season starts,” though that might be unrealistic.

“More realistically, by the middle of the football season, October, November, is more plausible,” he said. “Worst case, the beginning of next year.”

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North Carolina’s Neighbor Rakes In Millions 

North Carolina is the ninth most-popular state, with more than 10 million residents. Sports betting occurs inside two tribal casinos in the state but is not legal on mobile apps 

If mobile sports betting is approved, North Carolina is expected be a lucrative market. 

Next door in Tennessee, bettors wagered $292.7 million in April, according to figures released Tuesday from the state’s Sports Wagering Advisory Council. That amount is down 20.9% from the betting that took place in March during the popular NCAA March Madness basketball tournaments.

Tennessee collected $4.64 million in tax revenue from sports betting during April. 

All legal sports betting in Tennessee occurs on mobile devices. The state does not have brick-and-mortar casinos or sportsbooks.

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Governor Signals Support

If the North Carolina mobile sports betting bill makes its way out of House committees in the coming days, it will go to the full chamber for a vote. 

All legislation, including the sports betting bill, must be approved by the full Senate and House before going to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper for his consideration.

The bill faces resistance from groups concerned that legal wagering could lead to compulsive gaming and higher crime rates, but the governor has indicated he supports sports betting, noting it creates jobs.

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