RALEIGH, N.C. (WGHP) – Members of the North Carolina Senate are now taking your bets on whether sports gambling will be adopted in North Carolina.
The House on Wednesday afternoon passed on third reading House Bill 347, which legalizes all forms of gambling on all but high school and children’s sports in the state.
The final vote was 64-45, with 11 who didn’t participate in the vote. There were 30 Democrats who voted for the bill, and 20 Republicans voted against it.
Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Greensboro) and Rep. Amos Quick (D-Greensboro) were the only two Democrats from the Triad who voted against the bill. Triad Republicans who voted against the bill: Brian Biggs (R-Trinity), Julia C. Howard, (R-Mocksville), Neal Jackson (R-Robbins), Larry Potts (R-Lexington), Dennis Riddell (R-Snow Camp) and Jeff Zenger (R-Lewisville).
The bill had passed on second reading, 66-45. Roy Cooper likes the idea so much that he included $85 million in revenue in the budget proposal he sent to lawmakers a couple of weeks ago.
Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln), the presenting sponsor, again made a long speech about the advantages of the bill, citing revenue earned in New Jersey and Tennessee, by example, and suggesting North Carolina at 14% could earn $60 million to $80 million annually.
He touted wide bipartisan support, cited how the state is “falling behind” on sports betting revenue and the threat of illegal sports betting that goes on. The bill provides funding for state-supported historically Black colleges and universities, youth sports leagues and facilities, grants for local events and support for gambling addiction.
This is similar to a bill that failed by one vote to pass the House last summer. House Bill 347, had moved through four committees in two days last week.
There were long and passionate speeches during the debate on Wednesday, many based on morality and personal experience. Harrison continued to lead the call to vote no.
Like previous days, there also were nine more amendments that were offered and all were summarily rejected by wider margins than the vote on the overall bill. Harrison was behind many of them.
They addressed such issues as increasing the state’s revenue markedly, removing credit card payments and internet gambling, placing greater limits on advertising, removing bonuses that are given to providers who lure new gamblers, adding private HBCUs and to align controls more like the state lottery and limits aligned with Alcoholic Beverage Controls.
Two amendments that had been discussed in committees that did not emerge were to include more state universities – including UNC-Greensboro – that could derive revenue from the state’s cut and to remove greyhound racing as an acceptable form of parimutuel gambling. Both were promised, but neither was mentioned.
“The gambling industry knows they got North Carolina now,” Rep. Abe Jones (D-Wilson) said in summary. “The word is out. So no amendments. Nothing. Not a single one yesterday. Not a single one today. Wouldn’t take a thing out of the state’s pocket. The gambling industry wants to make as much as it can. So no votes. … Not do a single thing to make it better for the consumer, safer for the consumer. Because we gotcha.”
There are 33 states with live, legal sports gambling, americangaming.org reports. North Carolina is included on that list because the state has four licensed casinos on Indigenous Peoples’ property – two in Cherokee, one in Murphy and one in King’s Mountain.
Three states have legalized gambling but are not yet operational, and nine have active ballot initiatives, which include South Carolina and Georgia. There is no legislation in five states, which include California and Alabama.