North Carolina House Delays Votes, Mobile Wagering Stalls

North Carolina House Delays Votes, Mobile Wagering Stalls
© USA Today

The North Carolina House of Representatives won’t vote on any more bills until at least Monday night, the chamber’s speaker says.

This further indicates that time is running out for those hoping a North Carolina mobile sports betting bill can be revived at the statehouse in Raleigh this year. 

The short, even-year legislative session is set to end June 30, though Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, pictured, said the session might extend beyond that date. The session began on May 18.

After a brief floor session on Thursday, Moore told House members the next floor session will be Monday at 3 p.m. ET. 

Moore said no votes would be scheduled on the House floor between the remainder of the day on Thursday through Monday. If there are any floor votes on Monday, those votes would likely occur Monday night, he said. 

Moore said one focus next week will be on approving a state budget. The session could extend into Friday, he said, adding he hoped it would be wrapped up by July 4.

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Sports Betting ‘Not Totally Dead’

Technically, a mobile sports betting bill remained alive at the General Assembly late this week.

On Wednesday, the House voted 51-50 in favor of Senate Bill 38 during a second reading of the measure. A third reading, and a final vote, had been set for Thursday.

However, the bill was removed Wednesday night from the House calendar and referred back to the Rules, Calendar and Operations Committee. 

Rep. Jason Saine, R-Lincolnton, said late Wednesday that mobile sports betting “is not totally dead,” according to the Associated Press.

“It could resurface depending on what happens,” he said. “If not, sports wagering is going to remain an issue for the state of North Carolina because ... states around us are doing it.”

Saine, a sports betting supporter, defended the legislation in House committees and before the full chamber. 

With little time remaining this year, a sports betting bill still would need approval in the Senate, a difficult prospect on a contested issue with the general election only five months away. Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, has indicated he could support the measure.

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House Disputes Gambling 

SB38 would have legalized at least 10, but no more than 12, mobile sports betting apps, beginning Jan. 1, 2023. 

Right now, the only legal sports betting in North Carolina occurs inside two tribal casinos. Mobile wagering is legal in two bordering states, Tennessee and Virginia. 

Under SB38, bettors would have been allowed to wager on professional and college sports and horse racing in other states. However, an amendment Wednesday from Rep. John Autry, D-Charlotte, would prohibit bets on college sports. The House approved the amendment on a 61-40 vote.

Autry, noting he once was involved in producing sports videos for the North Carolina Tar Heels under former basketball coach Dean Smith, voiced concern that sports betting can corrupt athletics, a view shared on the House floor by Rep. Marcia Morey, D-Durham, a former Olympian.

A ban on college sports betting would rule out wagers on events such as the NCAA March Madness tournaments in a state where college basketball is popular.

Others who opposed the bill, including Rep. Pricey Harrison, D-Greensboro, asserted that gambling expansion can lead to increased poverty and social ills such as crime.

Citing the Bible, some lawmakers objected to the state accepting “dirty money” from gambling, potentially turning North Carolina into a place like Las Vegas, known as “Sin City.”

Supporters have countered that North Carolina residents already are using illegal apps to bet on sports and are traveling to bordering states where it is legal, costing North Carolina valuable tax dollars needed for state programs such as eduction.

Nineteen members of the 120-member House did not vote on the bill, considered by some to be politically volatile in conservative districts during an election year.

The bill also would have added funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and for programs to combat gambling addiction.

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Lawmakers Block Mobile Wagering

With the vote on SB38 completed, the House on Wednesday turned to another mobile sports betting bill, SB688, which also ran into anti-gambling objections. It was defeated on a 52-49 vote.

Rep. John Bell, R-Raleigh, switched his “yes” vote on SB688 in a “no” vote so that he would be in the majority, and thus allowed to recommend sending it back to committee for adjustments. The House rejected that proposal.

If mobile wagering fails at the General Assembly, North Carolina will join other Southern states, including Kentucky and Georgia, where legislators this year defeated sports wagering proposals.

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How They Voted On SB38

Below are the votes in the 120-member North Carolina House on SB38. The bill was approved, 51-50:

“Yes” Votes: 

(Democrat) Brockman; Brown; Carney; Clemmons; Cunningham; Dahle; Everitt; Farkas; Garrison; Harris; Hunt; Hunter; John; Lofton; Logan; Lucas; Majeed; Richardson; Roberson; K. Smith; R. Smith; Turner; Willingham; Wray

(Republican) Bell; Elmore; Faircloth; Gillespie; Goodwin; Greene; K. Hall; Hanig; Hardister; Humphrey; Johnson; Lambeth; Miller; Moffitt; Moss; Paré; Pickett; Pyrtle; Saine; C. Smith; Strickland; Szoka; Warren; Watford; Willis; Winslow; Yarborough

“No” Votes 

(Democrat) Adcock; Ager; Alston; Autry; Ball; Belk; Buansi; Butler; Cooper-Suggs; Gailliard; Gill; Harrison; Hurtado; A. Jones; Morey; Pierce; Quick; Reives; Rudow; von Haefen

(Republican) Adams; Arp; K. Baker; Blackwell; Boles; Brisson; Brody; Cleveland; Dixon; Hastings; Howard; Hurley; Iler; Kidwell; Loftis; McElraft; McNeill; Mills; Penny; Pittman; Pless; Potts; Riddell; Setzer; Shepard; Stevens; Torbett; Wheatley; White; Zenger

Not Voting 

(Democrat) None

(Republican) Clampitt; D. Hall (Chair); B. Jones; McNeely; Sasser; Tyson

Excused Absence 

(Democrat) Alexander; A. Baker; Graham; Hawkins; Martin; Meyer; Terry

(Republican) Bradford; Davis; Rogers; Sauls; Zachary

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How They Voted On SB688

Below the House votes on SB688. It failed, 52-49.

“Yes” Votes
 

(Democrat) Brockman; Brown; Carney; Clemmons; Cunningham; Dahle; Everitt; Farkas; Garrison; Harris; Hunt; Hunter; John; Lofton; Logan; Lucas; Majeed; Richardson; Roberson; K. Smith; R. Smith; Turner; Willingham; Wray

(Republican) Faircloth; Gillespie; Goodwin; Greene; K. Hall; Hanig; Hardister; Humphrey; Johnson; Lambeth; Miller; Moffitt; Moss; Paré; Pickett; Pyrtle; Saine; C. Smith; Strickland; Szoka; Warren; Watford; Willis; Winslow; Yarborough

“No” Votes

(Democrat) Adcock; Ager; Alston; Autry; Ball; Belk; Buansi; Butler; Cooper-Suggs; Gailliard; Gill; Harrison; Hurtado; A. Jones; Morey; Pierce; Quick; Reives; Rudow; von Haefen

(Republican) Adams; Arp; K. Baker; Bell; Blackwell; Boles; Brisson; Brody; Cleveland; Dixon; Elmore; Hastings; Howard; Hurley; Iler; Kidwell; Loftis; McElraft; McNeill; Mills; Penny; Pittman; Pless; Potts; Riddell; Setzer; Shepard; Stevens; Torbett; Wheatley; White; Zenger

Not Voting 

(Democrat) None

(Republican) Clampitt; D. Hall (Chair); B. Jones; McNeely; Sasser; Tyson

Excused Absence 

(Democrat) Alexander; A. Baker; Graham; Hawkins; Martin; Meyer; Terry

(Republican) Bradford; Davis; Rogers; Sauls; Zachary

Source: North Carolina General Assembly website

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