Published: July 7, 2023

North Carolina Legalizes Sports Gambling, Portion Of Fees Directed To Public Universities

CHARLOTTE — With North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signing House Bill 347, the Sports Wagering/Horse Racing Bill, inside the Charlotte Spectrum Center earlier in June, gambling will become legal in the state.

“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.”

After being filed on March 13 and spending three months going through revisions and amendments in the North Carolina House of Representatives, the newly passed law officially permits gambling on sports and horse racing. No real changes are expected until next year, as Jan. 8, 2024, is the earliest the legislation can officially go into effect.

The bill creates two ways to place a sports wager — either in-person at a licensed place of public accommodation, or as a registered player via an online account.

Licensed gambling operators would be responsible for ensuring the identity and age of any person trying to place a wager. To place a wager, a person must be at least 21 years of age.

Previously prohibited by NC General Statutes Article 37, the change was made largely due to the fact that gambling was already present within the state — largely through internet services whose headquarters are based in other locales.

“This is a very real thing, and it exists now,” Cooper said. “We already know sports gambling is going on now in our state, and this gives us the opportunity to put up safeguards.”

Containing an 18% privilege tax on licensed sports-betting operators, the taxed proceeds from the new legislation will fund various public initiatives.

According to the Governor’s office, funds from the gambling taxes will be used toward “Department of Health and Human Services gambling addiction education and treatment programs, NC amateur sports, public universities, a fund to help bring major sporting events and festivals to the state, the NC Outdoor Heritage Advisory Council and the state’s General Fund, among other purposes.”

Both representatives serving Watauga County — Destin Hall (R — District 87) and Ray Pickett (R — District 93) voted “aye” to help the bill pass. Pickett was also one of 55 co-sponsors of the bill.

Estimates by the NC House of Representatives forecast that the gambling industry could bring a potential yearly influx of $100 million dollars to the state by 2029.

Within the list of uses for those taxes is the stipulation that thirteen public North Carolina universities — including Appalachian State — will receive $300,000 on a yearly basis.

As noted earlier, NC Health and Human Services will use funds from the taxes to educate people on the risks and addictive nature of gambling, as well as finance the treatment of those with diagnosed gambling addictions.

“This legislation provides funding for treatment and prevention for people with addiction and gambling problems,” Governor Cooper stated.

In 2022, a report by WalletHub — a personal finance website — listed North Carolina as the 45th state in terms of gambling addiction, or in other words the sixth-least gambling-addicted state. The site used a variety of metrics, including lottery sales, number of reported adults with gambling addictions and even the presence of uncovered illegal gambling operations.

According to Psychology Today, compulsive gambling disorders affect approximately 1-3% of all US adults, and are more present in men. Those who suffer from the behavior can develop it at any time — though typically men begin it in adolescence, while women tend to start later in life.

For those seeking assistance with a gambling addiction, the North Carolina Problem Gambling Helpline number is (877) 718-5543.

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