North Carolina Unlikely to Legalize Mobile Sports Wagering

Updated: Jul 19



Wednesday, June 22, was a busy day for North Carolina’s two sports wagering bills, Senate Bills 38 and 688, which are considered companion bills. In the end, SB 38 passed on its second reading 51-50 and wound up being sent back to the House Rules Committee due to SB 688 failing to pass with a vote of 49-52.


North Carolina House Finance Committee


After passing through the North Carolina House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, both bills made their way to the House Finance Committee Wednesday morning. The House Finance Committee adopted multiple amendments to SB 38, including reducing the percentage of tax revenue to special events to 30% and apportioning 10% of tax revenues to athletic departments at North Carolina Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Both bills passed through the House Finance Committee via votes of 14-2 and 13-3, respectively.


North Carolina House Rules Committee


In the afternoon, the bills moved to the House Rules Committee. The House Rules Committee adopted one additional amendment—to phase out sportsbook operators’ ability to claim deductions on promotional credits to 3 years from 5 years. Subsequently, both bills passed via voice vote.


North Carolina House Floor


Finally, the bills ended the day on the North Carolina House Floor. Lawmakers offered multiple amendments to SB 38, including guaranteeing each of the seven lowest-funding athletic departments at least $300K, which ultimately was adopted.


Perhaps the most surprising amendment of the day came from Representative Autry. Representative Autry moved to strike all college sports betting from SB 38. Despite strong opposition to the motion, the House adopted the amendment. Importantly, the amendment is not limited to betting on North Carolina colleges and universities. Instead, the amendment applies to betting on all colleges and universities. In a state that loves college sports, the amendment is a shocker for fans all over the state.


Ultimately, SB 38 narrowly passed the House at 51-50. It was originally placed on the House calendar for a final reading on Thursday. Later, it was taken off the calendar and moved to the Rules Committee.


The day ended with the House taking up SB 688. While lawmakers offered a couple of amendments, the House did not adopt either. In another shocker, SB 688 failed by a vote of 49-52. This is notable considering that SB 688 served as the big structure for sports wagering and SB 38 is an amendment to portions of SB 688. Thus, SB 38 is dependent on SB 688.


Next Steps


With SB 688 failing, SB 38 is now the standalone bill on sports wagering. For now, proponents of SB 38 could strip the portions that rely on SB 688. However, with the session set to end no later than June 30, time is running out to get the bill through both chambers. Thus, in a surprising turn of events, it appears that North Carolina will end the session without mobile sports wagering.


Landis Barber is an attorney at Safran Law Offices in Raleigh, North Carolina. You can connect with him via LinkedIn or via his blog offthecourtdocket.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Landisbarber.


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