A bill that would legalize mobile sports betting in North Carolina is likely to see significant consideration in the House during the abbreviated spring legislative session.  

Rep. Jon Hardister, R-Gulliford, and majority whip in the House and one of the sponsors of the legislation, said recently he believes Senate Bill 688 has enough bipartisan support to pass the legislature.  

While North Carolinians can place legal wagers in the two casinos operated by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in Cherokee and Murphy, observers note that many residents place wagers online through the black market on offshore websites.  

“The fact is, people are already doing it. It’s not regulated,” Hardister told Spectrum News. “It makes sense to create a framework and allow people to do it legally. The state can collect tax revenue on it.” 

S.B. 688 would permit on-site wagering in more locations, including at professional sports venues, as well as authorize border-to-border betting on cell phones. It would set a tax rate of 8% of revenue, one of the lowest in the country. Fiscal estimates report about $24 million in annual tax revenue would be generated.  

The legislation passed the Senate but didn’t have time in 2021 to make it through the necessary House committees before reaching the House floor.  

Jordan Roberts, director of Government Affairs for the John Locke Foundation, told Carolina Journal in November the sponsors wanted to bring the issue up for discussion to gauge the likelihood of it passing this year and to see how it may need adjusted. Roberts figured then that the legislation could be a hot issue during the 2022 session.  

Roberts this week said the uncertainty of the 2022 schedule makes the priorities for legislators unclear.  

“Having passed the Senate already and cleared a key House committee, S.B. 688 does not have many more steps to make it to the House floor for approval,” Roberts said. “The bill’s fate this session will all be determined by the appetite of legislative leaders when they do decide to hold a session this year.”