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North Carolina’s online sports betting bill advanced multiple times this week, doing so without several major amendments opposed by industry stakeholders.

A bill that would legalize mobile wagering in North Carolina advanced out of three separate committees this week, setting up another critical vote for as early as this month. If passed, North Carolina would be one of the nation’s most populated states with statewide mobile wagering.

After passing through two committees earlier in the week, the House rules committee advanced the Wednesday afternoon. The Rules Committee vote sets up a discussion – and likely action – on the House floor.

If passed by the House, an identical version of the bill would also need to clear the Senate. Gov. Roy Cooper has backed the bill and is expected to sign the legislation should it passes both chambers.

The bill narrowly failed in the state’s 2022 legislative session. Supporters in the Republican-controlled legislature, as well as Cooper, a Democrat, have been publicly optimistic this year’s effort will pass.

Bill details

North Carolina sports betting is currently legal only in person at two Caesars-operated Harrah’s casinos in the state’s western portion as well the Two Kings casino near Charlotte. The current proposal would allow eligible bettors age 21 and older to place a bet with a mobile device while they are physically within North Carolina state lines.

As written, the bill would call for between 10 and 12 mobile operators. Due to its population and proliferation of professional and college sports teams, the state would likely attract most major US sportsbooks.

A potential North Carolina online sports betting market would likely reassemble neighboring Virginia’s. FanDuel, DraftKings and BetMGM, which combined have roughly 70 percent of the US sports betting market by handle, would almost assuredly seek a license. Caesars, with its retail sportsbook presence in the state, would also likely apply.

Virginia is home to other national brands that could seek North Carolina licensure including PointsBet, BetRivers, WynnBet and Barstool. Up-and-coming operators including Betr, Fanatics and bet365 would also likely be among the leading applicants.

The sportsbook at the Two Kings Casino is not partnered with a third-party B2C operator. The managing Catawba Tribe could look to work with a third-party B2C tech provider and create a self-branded mobile platform as well.

The current proposal would see North Carolina join Virginia and neighboring Tennessee among the most robust wagering markets in the South. Though other North Carolina neighbors including Georgia are considering mobile legislation this year, only the aforementioned trio as well as Arkansas and Louisiana, offer mobile sports betting in the southeastern US.

Amendments defeated

Operator interest will likely remain high after multiple proposed amendments opposed by the gaming industry were rejected ahead of the committee votes.

Betting on in-state college teams remains permitted under the current version of the bill, a major sticking point in last year’s debate. Industry advocates have said including betting on North Carolina college football and basketball programs such as Duke and the University of North Carolina is critical to attracting bettors to the regulated market.

Lawmakers also rejected bills that would have imposed some of the nation’s highest tax rates and licensing fees, both factors that could have dissuaded most operators from the market – or made it financially impossible for any book to be profitable.

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