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After months of debate and failed attempts to write a successful daily fantasy sports bill, North Carolina’s House has cleared a big hurdle as HB 929 has cleared its first committee vote.
House Bill 929 would create a commission to regulate fantasy daily sports. The commission would also oversee any boxing that comes to the state and the North Carolina Lottery.
With continued pressure from sites like FanDuel and DraftKings, lawmakers in North Carolina have been pushing for an all-encompassing bill that takes care of multiple betting areas.
“Fantasy sports has been going on in North Carolina for some time. It will continue to go on with or without this bill,” sponsor Rep. Harry Warren told the House Commerce committee.
“The question before you is, do you want it to continue unregulated, or under the direction of the North Carolina Gaming Commission?”
Attempts in each of the past two years by legislators to legalize daily fantasy sports in North Carolina have been defeated.
State law declares that gambling is a game for money in which chance outranks skill of the gambler. Most lawmakers believe daily fantasy still is a game of chance.
Critics of the bill, such as John Rustin, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council argued to the committee that sports betting in the state would be harmful to residents.
“Online sports gambling, and sports wagering in general, is particularly addictive, especially among youth,” Rustin said.
“This bill would bring with it a myriad of economic and social problems for individuals, families and communities all across our state.”
If House Bill 929 can make its way through the House, Senate and gain the signature of Governor Roy Cooper, no one under 18 years of age will be able to play daily fantasy in North Carolina.
House Bill 929 would exempt daily fantasy sports from the state’s ban on sports betting, allowing the games on FanDuel and DraftKings to be classified as games of skill.
But some legislators are hoping that legalizing daily fantasy sports will soften the harsh outlook lawmakers have taken on bringing sports betting to the state.
However, lawmakers have already proposed allowing sports betting to become legal at casinos run in the state by the Eastern Band of the Cherokee.
Senate Bill 154 comes at the request of the Cherokee tribe but does not expand the geography of sports betting in the state to other operators.
The Cherokee tribe operates as a sovereign nation and has the right to permit sports betting in their casinos as long as the North Carolina legislators agree.
Sen. Ralph Hise recognizes the financial impact that sports betting could have in Western North Carolina, home to the Cherokee Tribe.
“I’d be opposed to expanding gaming anywhere in North Carolina and other (areas),” Sen Hise said.
“But I do recognize who the tribe is – what they are – and it’s been a great impact to western North Carolina. But at the same time, they get to deal with the consequences of the choices they make.”
North Carolina legislators hope to make a decision soon before the current legislative session ends.
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