On Friday, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper brought sports betting to his state by signing Senate Bill 154, giving two tribal casinos the opportunity to offer legal wagering on games.
The law gives the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians the legal avenue to create two sportsbooks at two of their physical casino locations, both operating on tribal land in the Appalachian Mountains.
The signed bill comes in advance of another sports betting measure that would bring statewide wagering to North Carolina. The fate of the second bill will be decided in the coming weeks.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee have a grip on all betting in the state, so it became a natural progression that the tribe would be the first to get sports wagering in North Carolina.
The law provides sports betting opportunities to the Eastern Band of Cherokee casinos located in the cities of Cherokee and Murphy.
From a legal perspective, the Cherokee were granted permission to expand their gaming options to sports betting due to legalization by the Supreme Court in mid-2018.
During debate on the bill, legislators pointed out that SB 154 would only grant sports betting to the tribal areas that have requested permission.
Were not asking you to legalize sports betting and gambling in North Carolina, were simply asking you to add this to the list of the games that are allowed (at tribal casinos, Rep. Kevin Corbin said.
Other representatives believed the Eastern Band of Cherokee was the ideal partner to begin limited sports betting in North Carolina.
The Eastern Band have been extremely good stewards of the revenue generated from their gaming operations, Sen. Jim Davis said.
Early estimates believe the annual tax revenue to the state will be roughly $1-$1.5 million annually.
With his signature, Gov. Cooper put SB 154 into effect immediately for the two tribal casinos.
The law makes North Carolina the 17th state to offer some form of sports betting in the wake of the Supreme Courts decision to provide states the opportunity to offer wagering.
One of the headscratchers of the new law is that there is no mobile betting offered in the measure.
The reason that experts are perplexed is because the two Cherokee casinos are in smaller cities, far away from the states largest metropolitan areas of Charlotte and Raleigh.
Forcing customers to travel to the casinos, rather than use their mobile devices, especially in light of the business that New Jersey is doing online, will stunt the growth of betting in North Carolina.
The law requires the Eastern Band of Cherokee to pay five percent of their gross gaming revenue on all table games, a stipulation that will also cover sports betting.
Lawmakers have concluded that the casinos could reach around $14 million in revenue each year once sports betting is offered. If that holds true, the states take would be around the low end of the $1-$1.5 million estimate.
That low take in revenue could force mobile betting to find a place earlier in a broader expansion bill that may pass in the near future.
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