Sports-betting bill gaining steam in North Carolina

North Carolina News

(FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – Whether you realize it or not, and whether it’s legal or not, people wager all the time on sports events–whether it’s a few bucks, or something larger.

“It’s more widespread than people think,” said Sean Flanagan, who has seen sports betting for himself.

“You can do it in more states.  It’s becoming more and more popular,” he said.

North Carolina’s current laws on sports betting allow for the practice, but only at casinos. 

Harrah’s Casino in the mountains of western North Carolina, operated by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, opened up sports betting earlier this year.  The recently-opened Catawba Two Kings Casino in Kings Mountain can also have sports betting, and eventually will.

But other spots could soon be showing up if legislation is passed in Raleigh.

“You already have betting in North Carolina with the lottery,” said State Sen. Paul Lowe of Forsyth County, who is co-sponsoring bipartisan legislation to make sports betting more widely available, while also regulating it.

If the legislation, known as Senate Bill 688, gets passed, you could theoretically go to a Panthers or Hornets game in Charlotte and put money down.

“We got a lot of things that need revenue in our state,” said Lowe.  “And one of the things people like to do is bet.”

The bill itself has been stuck in the state legislature since April. However, last week, Governor Roy Cooper expressed his support for the measure.

Senate Bill 688, as it currently stands, would allow for no more than 12 operators across the state to take bets, and would be regulated and taxed by the state.

Lowe says, potentially, tens of millions of dollars could be made by the state. He said the primary goal of that revenue would go to areas in the state that need development.

However, there is opposition to the idea, primarily along moral grounds.

“There are some individuals who think this is terrible and a bad thing,” said Lowe.

Arguments have been made for decades on gambling.  However, support has increased politically over the years with the success of the state lotteries and casinos.

FOX 46 spoke with people off-the-record, asking whether or not they’d take part.  We came across several who have reservations on the idea, more for the risk involved.  However, most seemed to be in favor of the idea.

Senate Bill 688 did pass its first reading.

Lowe said the chances are good that the bill will pass this session with continued bipartisan support.

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