RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Ahead of Super Bowl Sunday, some state lawmakers say by the start of the next NFL season they believe North Carolina will have a law in place legalizing online sports betting.

Gov. Roy Cooper (D) supports the concept, saying some people are placing bets anyway and the state should benefit from the potential tax revenue.

“I think it’s important for North Carolina to be in the lead to make sure we secure the thousands of technology jobs that would come,” he said. “We ought to have a good strong debate about it, but I think it’s time for North Carolina to step up and do it.”

State Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln) has been trying to negotiate a bill that he thinks would ultimately pass the General Assembly.

In a 26-19 vote in August, the state Senate passed a bill to authorize online sports wagering. It would allow betting on professional, collegiate, amateur and electronic sports.

Since then, Saine has been talking with members of the House of Representatives and believes a majority of them would vote in favor of legalizing it.

“I think we will see sports betting this year,” said Saine. “It’s happening. We need to make sure that North Carolina gets our portion of that revenue.”

Under the bill that passed the Senate, the state would impose a tax of 8 percent of adjusted gross revenue and charge licensing fees to the companies that would operate.

An analysis by non-partisan staff in the legislature found the bill would generate between $8 million and $24 million annually, which is significantly less than other estimates. State lawmakers backing the proposal have said it would bring around $50 million annually.

Cooper and Saine said the tax and fee structure is part of the ongoing negotiation.

Cooper said the goal is “to make sure that state taxpayers get their part of this.”

According to the American Gaming Association, sports betting has been legalized in some form in 30 states and Washington, D.C.

North Carolina already allows in-person sports betting but only on tribal lands. Neighboring states Tennessee and Virginia are among those that have legalized online sports betting.

While there’s bipartisan support for the idea, there’s also bipartisan opposition.

The proposal has generated concern from conservative groups who fear the legalization would lead to an increase in problem gambling and have other societal consequences.

“All of those social issues, those problems that come along with gambling are what we’re truly concerned about,” John Rustin, president of the NC Family Policy Council, told CBS 17 when the Senate passed the bill. “Obviously because it is a gambling bill, there is massive financial interest behind this legislation.”

Some Democrats have raised concerns that the bill would disproportionately impact those most vulnerable and who can least afford it.

“It is a wild expansion of gambling in North Carolina,” state Rep. Deb Butler (D-New Hanover) told her colleagues at a meeting in the fall.

Saine said it’s his goal to hold votes on the version of the legislation in the spring.