Legal esports and sports betting in North Carolina can become a reality as soon as Gov. Roy Cooper signs HB347 into law. That’s because, on June 7, House members approved changes Senators made to the bill.
Cooper has 10 days to sign or veto the bill. If he does neither, HB347 automatically becomes law. However, Cooper indicated he would legalize esports and sports betting for North Carolinians.
Online gamblers within the state’s borders may be able to wager on video game tournaments and sports as soon as Jan. 8, 2024.
However, the regulator – the North Carolina State Lottery Commission (NCSLC) – will need time to set up the marketplace. So one of the changes Senators made to HB347 was to allow the marketplace to launch between Jan. 8, 2024, and 12 months after Cooper signs the bill into law.
Once the legal esports and sports betting marketplace launches, operators will pay an 18% tax rate. Lawmakers expect that rate to generate $100.6 million in tax revenue during Fiscal Year 2027.
HB347 is scheduled to be ratified today and presented to the governor tomorrow.
If Cooper signs the bill into law tomorrow, esports and sports betting may launch within 12 months of that action. However, it can’t be sooner than Jan. 8, 2024.
Senate Changes to Esports, Sports Betting Bill
Today, House members “concurred on the third reading” of HB347. Those are fancy words to say representatives approved changes the Senate made in the esports and sports betting bill.
The most notable amendment was increasing online gambling operators’ tax rate from 14% to 18%.
Also, Senators allowed the regulator more time to set up the marketplace before it launches. They added the 12-month leeway after Cooper signs HB347.
Today’s House Vote on HB347
Four representatives wanted to be heard before the House passed the bill along to Cooper in a 68-45 vote.
State Rep. Pricey Harrison, D-Guilford, rose to oppose the bill, calling it “predatory.” She also claimed it’s unconstitutional because North Carolina’s income tax is 7%. (The bill proposes taxing operators at 18%.)
The three other members of the House who spoke called gambling a vice that will destroy families and the integrity of sports. They also said HB347’s $2 million in problem gambling funding isn’t enough.
The bill introduced on March 13 by state Rep. Jason Saine, R-Lincoln, is being sent to the governor.