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Armando Bacot #5 of the North Carolina Tar Heels reacts after a dunk against the Duke Blue Devils on Feb. 4. Grant Halverson/Getty Images/AFP

North Carolina looks to be on the verge of expanding its legal sports betting industry past retail-only platform that has existed at the state's three tribal casinos since 2020. 

News out of North Carolina’s senate finance committee puts an online sports betting bill (HB 347) on track to reach the Senate floor for a vote this week. If the bill makes it out of the Senate, legal online sports betting would go into affect sometime in the next 12 months, with January being the most likely launch date.

How we got here

Retail sports betting has been taking place in North Carolina since 2020 when lawmakers OK'd the use of tribal casinos and their brick-and-mortar facilities to place a wager. The glaring omission for the North Carolina legal sports betting scene was the presence of the best sports betting apps in the country and the ability for its citizens to place a sports bet from the comfort of their own homes.

There have been attempts at passing mobile sports betting legislation in the Tar Heel State before. Last year, an attempt to legislate and launch betting sites failed in the House by one measly vote. This time, their mobile sports betting bill passed 54-45, paving the way for the Senate to take up the issue.

What HB 347 says

HB 347, if passed by the North Carolina senate would allow for up to 12 of the best betting sites to launch in the state, as a complement to their retail platform - eight tethered licenses and four standalone ones. Mobile betting would add rocket fuel to the bottom line of the state's legal sports betting providers and would exponentially increase the revenues and ultimate tax contributions for the industry.

Under the House plan, the tax rate would be set at 14% on gross revenue, which lands somewhere in the middle of other betting states. Betting sites will be charged a $1 million licensing fee and the platform will be regulated by the state's lottery commission.

Tax dollars would go to gambling addiction education and treatment, the division of parks and recreation, and university athletic programs across the state.

The Senate will have its say

Before being signed into law, it is up to the North Carolina senate to review the rules and make amendments. Already, senators have suggested an 18% tax rate for the state's betting sites, over the House-proposed 14%. The senate has also proposed a ban on operators’ deduction of promotional costs.

The North Carolina senate has also suggested pushing back the date of the official launch of their state's mobile sports betting platform. 

North Carolina senators have made plans for the state's pro sports teams to partner with sportsbooks for in-person, retail wagering at Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte Motor Speedway, North Wilkesboro Speedway, PNC Arena in Raleigh, Quail Hollow Country Club, Sedgefield Country Club, Spectrum Center, and WakeMed Soccer Park.

Thanks to the North Carolina senate, regulators will get a little breathing room with regard to a possible launch date for their mobile sports betting platform. They have proposed a 12-month timeline for launch, instead of a drop-dead date. Mobile sports betting should go live in the next year, or prior to, if all of the "T's" are crossed and the "I's" dotted.

What's next?

North Carolina senators will vote on the bill this week - Thursday could be the day we actually see that take place. If it passes (and it is expected to do so), the bill would be sent back to the House, complete with amendments to hear final reading. If approved in the House, it is off to governor Roy Cooper’s office to be signed into law.

There is widespread optimism that the momentum for mobile sports betting in North Carolina will help push it over the finish line. It means that North Carolina residents will be able to place a legal mobile sports wager by January, in time for NFL playoffs, the Super Bowl and March Madness.