Sports betting is back on the table for North Carolina lawmakers, and this time with better odds.
Retail sports betting is currently available at two North Carolina tribal casinos operated by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians at Harrah’s Cherokee Casinos in Cherokee and Murphy.
For sports fans and supporters of the law like Jacob Diehl, last year’s failed sports betting law was a disappointment.
“I had little hope that the bill would pass last year,” Diehl said.
One of the main sponsors of the bill, Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln) is hoping for a better outcome in this year’s session.
“Many members have taken the time to become more informed,” Saine said. “We had a pretty good vote count. I think we have about 54-55 sponsors of the bill. Out of 160 people, that’s pretty significant. I think we’re moving forward. I think the atmosphere is much different than last time.”
Last year, the legalization of sports betting in North Carolina was supported by Governor Roy Cooper.
WRAL Sports investigative reporter Brian Murphy said all indications are that the governor will sign the bill now under consideration.
“His two-year budget included about $85 million in sports gambling tax revenue,” Murphy said.
Murphy explained why North Carolina lags behind some other states in legalizing sports betting.
“North Carolina is just a more conservative state than some of the states that have legalized mobile sports betting,” Murphy said.
“Last year was a very chaotic session. This bill has been amended and amended by committee and has been amended in the House,” Murphy said.
He added: “One thing to consider is that a lot of MPs in the House of Representatives have changed – around a quarter of them are different from last year after the election. And then pro sports teams and others who are really pushing for this in the meantime have lobbied very hard to explain the problem better than last year and show lawmakers more data.”
Despite objections to the law, Saine said North Carolinians already bet on sports, and changing the law would better guarantee customer safety.
“Honestly, I think the law puts the spotlight on and allows for some real transparency to better understand what sports betting looks like in our state,” he said.
Deihl believes the passage of the sports betting law will change the fan experience.
“Something like F1 going up, I don’t watch it, but if it was betting I might look into it,” he said. “It’ll be fun and give me a reason to watch it.”