Stalled North Carolina Sports Betting Bill Finds New Life
After months of stalled efforts, legislators in North Carolina have movement on a bill that would allow sports betting on tribal land but not inside the remainder of the state.
Senate Bill 154 moved out of a final committee in the state House this week after the House’s Commerce Committee approved the measure.
The bill now moves onto the state Senate for a hearing to determine the validity of the measure, but experts believe that the legislation is on solid ground for passage in the coming days.
In addition to sports betting, tribal land casinos would also gain the opportunity to permit horse wagering on their premises as well.
The bill specifically grants sports betting permission to the Eastern Band of Cherokee casinos in the cities of Cherokee and Murphy.
Lawmakers were quick to point out that the bill doesn’t create a betting expansion in the state but rather grants permission to the tribal areas that have requested for sports wagering.
“We’re not asking you this morning to legalize sports betting and gambling in North Carolina, we’re simply asking you to add this to the list of the games that are allowed at tribal casinos,” Rep. Kevin Corbin said.
Legally, the tribal casinos were allowed to expand their gaming offerings to sports betting for their customers due to the Supreme Court legalization decision of 2018.
Other lawmakers felt that the Eastern Band of Cherokee tribe was the perfect partner to start this limited legalization of 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.
Even with just two locations, early estimates place the annual revenue to the state around $1-$1.5 million each year from casinos.
Why Did SB154 Stall?
Senate Bill 154 passed in early April by a vote of 42-7, making most insiders believe that the measure was a slam dunk for signing by Governor Roy Cooper.
But rather than moving on, the legislation stalled due to confusion among lawmakers when a second sports betting bill was introduced in the state.
As North Carolina watched six other states approve some form of sports betting, SB154 languished and appeared to be dead on arrival.
“We did not see the other bill coming and were kind of blindsided by the fact that it held our bill up,” Corbin told Legal Sports Report.
“The problem was that people thought we should have a discussion on if we are going to study sports betting before we let it out.”
The bill that caused the confusion was House Bill 929 that looked to create a North Carolina Gaming Commission to oversee the expansion of sports betting in the state.
The new commission would have regulated daily fantasy sports from companies like DraftKings and FanDuel plus studied sports betting on a grander scale in the state.
Now that the confusion is cleared up, SB154 can gain further steam although other committee will soon take a look at the measure.
The bill’s fate could ultimately fall in the hands of Gov. Cooper, who has not indicated if he will sign the legislation into law if given the chance.