With bipartisan support, the Senate voted 43-7 to move the bill onto the House for approval.
Sen. Jim Davis shepherded the bill to passage allowing Native American run casinos in the state to take sports wagers.
North Carolina has two casinos in the entire state, both run by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
Davis’ district includes the state’s Cherokee reservation.
The senator has championed the casinos’ tax revenue being used to build social programs and a hospital for the community.
“This (bill) just expands it to cover sports wagering already deemed to be legal. The Eastern Band has been incredibly vigilant, been good stewards of the money.”
The committee also decided that the state’s sports betting bill would allow the Indiana Gaming Commission to regulate the sports wagering market.
Currently, the two casinos generate about $11 million in revenue sharing payments for the state.
If the bill is signed by Governor Roy Cooper, then Sen. Davis believes the measure will pump another $1 million into the state’s general fund.
How Do the State’s Colleges Feel About the Sports Betting Expansion?
Some schools are upset at the proposed legislation with the University of North Carolina’s athletic leadership leading the charge.
UNC’s Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham has been vocally opposed to the measure and the impact it could have on the school’s athletes.
“We do not support wagering on amateur athletics, but know it is legal in a number of states,” Cunningham said.
“We are working with our conference office and will be working with the NCAA on this issue.”
ACC commissioner John Swofford shares UNC A.D. Cunningham’s reservations but understands the measure’s passing is inevitable and the conference must look ahead.
“I think we just have to plow into this, understand it as best we can,” Swofford said.
“And see if it really is as – if you’re really opposed to it, see if it’s as bad as we really think it is – because I don’t think we know,” Swofford said.
Other opposition in the state included the conservative Family Policy Council who believes that the expansion to casinos will open the floodgates to wide adoption by lawmakers.
John Rustin of the FPC met with lawmakers in March to voice his concerns about the widespread expansion of sports gambling in the state.
“How can you authorize it for this purpose but then oppose it in a statewide form?” Rustin told legislators in March.
“While this may seem like an isolated and limited expansion of gambling, it is likely to have far-reaching consequences.”
When Will We See Sports Betting In North Carolina?
North Carolina’s slow introduction to sports betting comes on the heels of the failed attempt to legalize daily fantasy sports in 2018.
If the bill passes the House and gets the signature of Gov. Cooper, then residents of North Carolina can expect to be betting on sports by the beginning of the 2019 NFL season.
Not only does the bill cover sports gambling but residents will be able to wager on horse races around the country as well.
If you want to find out if it is legal to bet on sports in your state, here is a detailed list of the sports betting situation in each state in the U.S. - Where Is Online Sports Betting Legal in the USA?