News: Quick Takes

Sports betting legislation passes second Senate committee

A bill that would legalize sports betting across North Carolina has passed the Senate Judiciary Committee.

After waiting its turn during this legislative session, Senate Bill 688 is quickly making progress. It initially passed the Senate Finance Committee on Aug. 4. The legislation was referred to the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate. The Committee on Commerce and Insurance must also take up the bill before it goes to the full Senate for a vote.

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard the bill Monday, Aug. 9, due to the legislation’s prohibition on underage betting and betting collusion, among other topics.

Gaming Today reported that Sen. Michael Lee, R-New Hanover, expressed concerns about how it would be possible to enforce a provision of the bill that prohibits advertising to residents under the legal betting age of 21, given that sportsbook logos could easily be visible to attendees or viewers of sporting contests.  

“It seems like it’s hard to say you’re not advertising to someone under the age of 21 if you have some of those unique circumstances,” Lee said.

Sen. Norman Sanderson, R-Carteret, responded that it would be difficult “to build a wall” to separate those over the age of 21 and under that age, in terms of advertising.

Sen. Chuck Edwards, R-Buncombe, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and co-chair of the Senate Commerce and Insurance Committee, raised concerns about a lack of numbers on the state residents who “may fall victim to being addicted to gambling and perform any illegal act subsequent to that.”

S.B. 688 co-sponsor Sen. Jim Perry, R-Lenoir, has pointed out that North Carolina residents can already bet on sports via the internet, but only through black market channels that afford no legal protection to the bettors.

The bill would authorize the N.C. State Lottery Commission to issue up to a dozen licenses for both online wagering and betting at professional sports venues in the state. It would set a tax rate of 8% on revenue and create a special events fund to promote tourism in North Carolina.