Showing ‘Em How It’s Done: North Carolina Lawmakers Look To Legalize Online Sports Betting Statewide

Written By Derek Helling on April 16, 2021

If a new gambling expansion bill proves successful, crossing the border to take advantage of legal sports betting in North Carolina could get a lot easier for Georgia residents.

The bill would make online wagering legal throughout the Tar Heel State.

Georgians can already place authorized bets via two tribal casinos in North Carolina. This change would make the state’s regulated sports betting industry even more accessible. It could also apply pressure (maybe) to officials in Atlanta to authorize the same in the Peach State.

Details of the new North Carolina sports betting bill

The proposed bill in North Carolina has a lot of similarities with the law in neighboring Virginia. The state lottery — in this case, the North Carolina Education Lottery (NCEL) — would oversee the activity, which would happen online and possibly at stadiums with capacities of at least 17,000. The state’s two tribal casinos, both operated by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, would have the option to offer mobile betting as well.

Last month, those two properties launched their retail sportsbooks. William Hill handles the daily sports betting business at both facilities. So, that’s at least one online sportsbook that’s a prohibitive shoo-in if SB 688 becomes law.

There would be plenty of room for competition, however. The bill would authorize the  NCEL to issue no fewer than 10 but no more than 12 licenses. Additionally, brands like DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook could partner with licensees.

Who would be able to obtain NC sports betting licenses?

Some potential partners of incoming operators could be the owners of the aforementioned sports facilities. The Centennial Authority, City of Charlotte and Panthers Stadium LLC all would fit that bill. Those entities own the venues where the Carolina Hurricanes, Charlotte Hornets and Carolina Panthers play their home games.

The bill has some industry-friendly terms that are sure to attract gambling companies. Those include a license price tag of just $500,000, with a $100,000 renewal cost every five years, and a tax rate of only 8%. The bill would also allow wagering on collegiate sports, a sure-fire hit in a state with popular college basketball programs.

That might be what draws Georgians across the border in the short term and even after the Peach State legalizes sports betting. The last attempt to do so in Georgia was quite restrictive on college sports.

Georgians might have two incentives to visit the Tar Heel State often

If the state does enact this bill and the North Carolina Education Lottery gets the sportsbooks live quickly, the state could enjoy a lot of tax dollars from Georgians’ bank accounts. The soonest that legal sportsbooks might actually start taking bets in Georgia looks like sometime in mid- to late-2023.

Then there’s the issue of betting on college sports. Under the terms of the recently shelved GA bill, bettors in the Peach State would be unable to wager on in-state teams. Some lawmakers in Atlanta want to make all college sports off-limit.

If either of those clauses becomes part of a future GA sports betting law, North Carolina sportsbooks will look tantalizing for many Georgia bettors.

For North Carolina, SB 688 has bipartisan support, so things are looking up for the bill’s sponsors right now. Should that momentum continue, Georgians might soon be able to cross state lines into either Tennessee or North Carolina to legally bet sports online.

Photo by AP / Brian Westerholt
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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