RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Critical votes are expected this week on a bill to legalize mobile sports betting in North Carolina after a similar measure failed to pass the state House of Representatives last year by a single vote.  

The bill has 55 of the House’s 120 members co-sponsoring it and would allow betting on professional, collegiate, amateur and electronic sports. 

Supporters of the measure have argued that betting is occurring anyway, and that the bill would allow the state to tax it and regulate it. Sports betting is currently allowed at the tribal casinos.  

The House is expected to hold the first of two votes on Tuesday.  

An analysis by non-partisan staff in the fiscal research division of the General Assembly found the state would gain about $7 million in revenue in the first six months and that amount would grow to about $46 million in the fifth year mobile sports betting is legal. Operators are able to deduct promotions and credits initially, which is phased out over the first few years.  

The bill calls for a 14 percent privilege tax and initial $1 million fees for operators. The state would allow between 10 to 12 companies to operate. The bill calls for $2 million annually to go to the NC Dept. of Health and Human Services for gambling addiction and education programs. It also sets aside funding for the state’s Division of Parks and Recreation as well as athletic programs at several of the schools in the UNC system.  

Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln), one of the lead sponsors of the bill, has called those estimates “conservative,” but opponents of legalization say it undercuts the argument that it would be a substantial source of revenue for the state. 

“And, the way that these bills have been drafted in other states, we’ve seen that it hasn’t produced the revenue that they’ve promised,” said Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford). “I hope it fails.” 

The bill has had both bipartisan support and bipartisan opposition. Rep. Saine has said since last year he’s continued to have discussions with lawmakers who voted against the bill last year, aiming to change their minds about the issue. 

Rep. Robert Reives, the House Democratic Leader, voted against the measure in 2022 but is among the 55 co-sponsors this year. 

“There’s been a changing landscape for everybody. And the sports industry, if we’re going to be in sports, there are certain realities that we are in a position where we’re going to face and deal with. And, sports betting is one of those,” he said.  

He added that legalizing mobile sports betting would help to keep existing professional teams in North Carolina and provide economic development opportunities in the areas where those teams play as well as to help draw additional major events to the state.  

“Even if the state doesn’t make the revenue that’s projected with sports betting, where we make the revenue is in the development of these areas and other opportunities,” he said. “Wake and Mecklenburg, they’re the ones I’m confident will make a ton of money off of us passing this bill which will be part of a big economic package.”