NC Governor signs off on mobile sports gambling

Chance Chamberlain, Associate Sports Editor

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed House Bill 347, the Sports Wagering/Horse Racing Bill, Wednesday at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte. 

Cooper signed the bill which legalized online gambling on sports and horse racing. The bill authorized the opening of on-site gambling at sports venues such as Bank of America Stadium, Spectrum Center and the North Wilkesboro Speedway. Previously, on-site sports gambling was only allowed at three casinos owned by the Catawba and the Eastern Band Cherokee.  

“This legislation provides funding for treatment and prevention for people with addiction and gambling problems,” Cooper said at the bill’s signing. “This is a very real thing, and it exists now. We already know, sports gambling is going on now in our state, this gives us the opportunity to put up safeguards.”

The bill will go into effect within a year, with Jan. 8, 2024 being the earliest possible launch date. 

Within the bill is an 18% privilege tax on sports betting operators. Projections show the state can make up to $100 million by its fifth year. Public universities including App State will receive $300,000 annually from license fees and taxes collected.

“This legislation will help North Carolina compete, make sure taxpayers receive a share, create many good-paying jobs and foster strong economic opportunity,” Cooper said. “As we move forward, we should work to make sure more of the revenue is used to invest in our public schools, teachers and students.”

The idea of online sports gambling isn’t new to state lawmakers as legalization discussions began in 2022. Lawmakers debated legalizing mobile sports betting, but fell short by one vote in the House. Talks of sports gambling subsided until spring 2023, when House Bill 347 was approved quickly by the Senate 38-11 May 31. The House voted in approval 68-45 June 7, sending the bill for Cooper to sign. 

The addition of online sports gambling is expected to change the fan experience. Fans over 21 years old can now wager before and during games with the tap of a finger. 

With sports gambling becoming easier, it brings an added element of precaution for athletes. The NFL suspended five players this offseason for violating gambling policies. Throughout professional and collegiate sports, teams are educating athletes about gambling risks.