RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – State senators made some significant changes Wednesday to a bill legalizing mobile sports betting, including raising the tax rate that betting operators would pay. 

The revised bill would boost that tax rate to 18 percent, allow bets on horse racing and allow people to place cash bets in person at sports venues.  

A summary of the proposed changes can be seen here.

The bill passed out of the Senate Commerce and Insurance Committee Wednesday. It still has to go through other committees but could be on the Senate floor for a vote next week. 

“This is just recognizing that this practice exists. It has existed since the beginning of time. It’s increasing with access to smartphone technology,” Sen. Tim Moffitt (R-Henderson) said.  

The bill would legalize betting on professional, collegiate, amateur and electronic sports. A different version of the bill passed the House earlier this year, receiving both bipartisan support and opposition. 

“Conservative estimates suggest that North Carolina can expect to see tens of thousands more of our state’s citizens and their families victimized by gambling addiction if this bill is enacted into law,” John Rustin said, the president and executive director of the NC Family Policy Council. “Gambling will become the centerpiece of sports competition in North Carolina, instead of the games, the sports themselves.” 

As other states, including Virginia and Tennessee, have legalized mobile sports betting, Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln) said those moves “force North Carolina’s hand.” 

He has been one of the leading advocates in the House for legalization. When asked about the Senate’s various changes he said Wednesday, “I am still awaiting to see what their final product is. It’s a process.”  

The Senate bill would increase the tax rate operators pay from 14 to 18 percent. It would also eliminate the ability to deduct promotions and credits.  

Sen. Jim Perry (R-Lenoir) said it’s now estimated the bill would generate about $60 million in revenue for the state annually once sports betting is fully operational. 

Supporters of the bill said allowing in-person cash bets at sports facilities would give those facilities the ability to attract customers on days where there are no games at those venues and could boost economic development in those areas.  

The bill would apply to facilities that host a NASCAR touring race, a professional golf tournament with more than 50,000 live spectators anticipated to attend or facilities that are home to teams in the MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL, NHL or NWSL. 

The money generated from sports betting would be earmarked for a variety of uses including: gambling addiction programs, athletic programs at various schools in the UNC system, youth sports as well as a fund to attract major events to the state.  

If the Senate approves the measure, it would go back to the House to consider again.