RALLY, NC (AP) – Legislation that would have allowed sports betting collapsed across North Carolina late Wednesday as the House narrowly rejected a key measure amid warnings about the dangers of gambling from an unusual coalition of social conservatives. The Liberal Democrats.
The House voted 51-50 not to approve one of the two measures that, when combined, would establish the rules for authorizing and regulating gambling in professional sporting events and out-of-state horse racing,
Prospects already looked shaky earlier Wednesday when the House voted by a similar margin of 51-50 for a supplemental measure that would have mostly triggered changes to a separate, sweeping bill. It was revealed last year that it laid out the structure of how sports betting is conducted. The supplementary action focused on how gambling licensing operators were taxed and where the proceeds would have gone.
Many critics of the measures have argued that government sanctions on sports betting would lead to gambling addiction, leading to increased theft, embezzlement and debt-ridden debt.
“If you vote for this, you’re betting these two bills are going to control gambling, in North Carolina,” Representative Jay Adams, a Catawba County Republican, told his House colleagues. “This is just another opportunity to create unfortunate opportunities for people who cannot resist.”
The first measure actually took off when the chamber voted by a comfortable margin an amendment to remove college sports from the list of games that customers can bet on online or in person.
Representative Jason Sain, a Lincoln County Republican who is sponsoring proceedings in the House this week, noted that the complementary measure survived the floor vote, so the idea of gambling “isn’t quite dead.” But the General Assembly’s working session is likely to end late next week.
“It could pop up depending on what’s going on. If not, sports betting will still be a problem for North Carolina because the states around us are doing it,” Sain said afterwards.
State sports gambling took off after a 2018 US Supreme Court ruling. Twenty states and the District of Columbia now offer mobile sports betting, including neighboring Virginia and Tennessee, according to the American Gaming Association, while 28 states and the District of Columbia have some type of betting. Personal. The eastern band of Cherokee Indians opened on-site betting last year at two casinos in far western North Carolina thanks to previous legislation.
Wednesday’s defeat also means uncertainty over whether the state Senate and Democratic Governor Roy Cooper, who has said he is ready to sign the sports betting law, will be willing to accept less than the compromise revealed this week. More than half of Senate Republicans voted against the sweeping measure passed by their House last August.
It looks like Republican Representative Jeffrey Elmore of Wilkes County was the crucial voter on Wednesday. House records showed that while Elmore voted for the supplementary measure, he voted against the second, more comprehensive bill. Elmore did not immediately respond to a phone message left in his legislative office.
Nearly a fifth of the House of Representatives’ 120 members did not vote, either with or without formal excuses for absenteeism — a sign of how the initial vote count was.
Supporters of the bill said that state residents already participate in illegal sports betting through offshore websites or local bookmakers, and it is best for the state to control and tax the activity.
North Carolina, the ninth most populous state, is currently an untapped market with many major sports franchises in league, college basketball, NASCAR, and golf.
The measures would have allowed the issuance of between 10 and 12 licenses to interactive sports betting operators along with licenses for suppliers and service providers. People aged 21 or older within state limits could play on their phones or computers starting in January. NASCAR tracks, golf courses, arenas, and stadiums where professional sports are held can have in-person or nearby betting locations if the legislation is successful.
The legislation also contained $2 million for problem gambling programs.
“I certainly understand the concerns of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, but I also disagree with them,” said Representative Wesley Harris, a Democrat from Mecklenburg County who supported the measures. The black market exists and people are already gambling. But there is no regulation and there is no help for these people.”
The supplementary bill also contained sweetening articles on how the state’s share should be distributed. The net proceeds would benefit the county’s youth athletic programs, the athletic departments of seven UNC campuses and efforts to bring sporting events and attractions to the state.