North Carolina Proposes Legalized Sports Betting

The state of North Carolina is notorious for having extremely conservative gambling laws that are heavily regulated. Currently, the state has 4 basic types of legalized betting after video gaming machines and greyhound tracks were banned years ago. This does not come without a catch as legalized bingo and lotteries must be classified as fund raisers. The time has come for the state to pursue legalized sports betting and its sights are set on the Indian casinos.

NC Gambling includes:

  • Education Lottery

  • 2 Indian casinos

  • charitable raffles and bingo

  • low stakes beach bingo

Indian Gaming:

The only federally recognized tribe in North Carolina is the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. There are two casinos and a high stakes bingo parlor on its Qualla Boundary territory, which is located in the Great Smokey Mountains area. There is the Harrah's Cherokee casino, which opened in 1997 and only started offering table games in 2012. They were permitted to open the Harrah's Cherokee Valley River casino in 2015. These two casinos are the lone forms of legal high stakes gambling within the state and they are only authorized to operate slots, table games, and gaming machines.

Bill S 154:

Introduced in March of 2019 by Senator Jim Davies, S 154, is a legislative bill that would authorize and regulate sports betting on college and professional sporting events. The proposed bill includes strict governing requisites. Sports wagering would only be permitted on land-based tribal gaming facilities such as the two existing Harrah's Cherokee casinos. S 154 would prohibit mobile or online sports betting.

One major issue with S 154 is that it does not include details regarding the taxes, licensing, and fees that would be assessed if it is passed. This may make it hard for politicians to back this bill and it may need to be amended by lawmakers in the future.

Another piece of North Carolina legislation...

...presented by Senators Fitch and Lowe is SB 165. This bill would enable the State Lottery Commission to license and regulate off track betting on horse races. SB 165 would require the operators and facilities to pay an annual fee of $1,000 as well as 20 percent of the wagering turnover, which would go to the State Lottery Commission. Should it pass into law, the bill would most likely take effect at the beginning on 2020.


If one or both of these bills pass there would be several positive implications resulting from the legalization of sports betting in North Carolina. It would provide the state with a large revenue stream generated by taxes, licensing, and fees in which could be budgeted for education, infrastructure, or other under funded public state departments.

On one hand, these proposed bills have the potential to reduce illegal sportsbooks and criminal activity. On the other, there are just two land-based casinos in the state, so I have to wonder how far out of their way will residents go in order to place a legal bet.

Hopefully if gambling on sports is legalized, they will start to see benefits and loosen up their outlook on gambling in NC. It seems as if betting in the southeast region of the United States is extremely discouraged and highly regulated, and with any luck the restrictions will lighten up in this area of the country.

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