The North Carolina Senate has amended an online sports betting bill. How?

Some of the proposed changes are significant as they transform an online sports betting law into a horse racing law.

Last Updated: May 26, 2023 3:23 PM ET Read Time: 3 min

A bill to legalize online sports betting sites in the state of Tar Heel is already being revised in the North Carolina Senate, which will reportedly vote on the bill next week.

North Carolina House of Representatives Bill 347 was passed in the North Carolina House of Representatives in March and the legislation began its way through the state Senate this week beginning with a Commerce Committee session.

Senators amended the bill during the session, and Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger told WRAL that HB 347 is on track for a full Senate vote next week.

“These are reasonable changes,” said Berger allegedly. “I think it’s changes that improve the bill.”

fooling around

Whether the House of Representatives sees the changes the same way has yet to be decided. The House of Commons blocked passage of a sports betting legislation bill last year, and if the House of Representatives doesn’t approve the changes or negotiate a compromise with the senators, the same could happen again.

Sports betting in North Carolina currently consists of in-person bets at three state casinos, which also accept horse racing bets. Online sports betting isn’t legal yet, which HB 347 would change.

Nonetheless, the changes proposed by the Senate are significant. Perhaps the most significant change is that senators are now trying to include pari-mutuel betting on horse racing in the online sports betting bill.

The house version of HB 347 was all about the ponies; The current Senate draft would allow for the licensing and regulation of Advance Wagering (ADW). Operators like TwinSpires could submit an application and a $1 million fee and potentially start offering pari-mutuel betting on horse racing in North Carolina.

ADW licensees would have to pay an annual fee of 1% of their total sales in the state. Residents would need to be at least 21 years old to bet, which is the same age limit proposed for online sports betting.

In addition, the North Carolina State Lottery Commission would be tasked with making rules for horse racing, including for races already held. In other words, the legislation now provides for historic horse racing machines that could only be housed at a real racecourse, if one were built.

“It’s a way of combining past races and betting on them,” Senator Jim Perry said during Wednesday’s committee meeting. “But it’s all related to horse racing.”

betting in public

The proposed change is significant as it turns what was previously an online sports betting law into a horse racing law. But there are also tweaks the Senate wants to make to the sports betting-related parts of the legislation.

On the tax side, the Senate is proposing to increase state revenue to 18% of revenue from the 14% approved by the House of Representatives. The Senate also doesn’t want to allow operators to deduct free bets or promotions from taxable income, as House legislation had proposed, albeit only until 2027.

Both the House and Senate versions of HB 347 provide for “Public Accommodation Facilities” at or near professional sports venues where wagers may be placed. The exact way these bets are placed differs between the two houses. The House of Representatives proposed using players’ mobile sports betting accounts to place bets, while the Senate is now aiming to allow easy retail sports betting at venues.

“Betters could place their sports bets anywhere in the state through their interactive account, however, interactive sportsbook operators must geolocate their sports bettor at the time of initiating the sports bet to determine that the sports bettor is located in North Carolina and not in tribal areas,” it said in an analysis of the latest version of the bill. “Betters could also place their sports bets at a permanent or temporary public accommodation linked to a sports facility.”

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