North Carolina sports betting bill passed by Senate

11 April 2019

A bill to legalise sports betting on tribal lands in North Carolina has been passed by the state Senate, and transferred to the House of Representatives.

S154, introduced by Republican Senator Jim Davis, would allow tribal gaming facilities to offer sports betting alongside other forms of gambling currently permitted under existing compacts with the state.

It was passed by the Senate at its second reading, with 43 Senators voting in favour and seven against.

This means the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, currently the only tribe that has agreed a compact with the state, would be able to launch sports betting on its lands should the House, and Governor Roy Cooper, approve the legislation.

It states that sports wagers must be placed on Indian lands that are already permitted to conduct Class III (casino) gaming activities. Betting on horse racing, which has also been added to S154, must also be conducted under the same conditions.

This would suggest that legal wagering would be restricted to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ Caesars Entertainment-operated Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort on the Qualla Boundary in Cherokee and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel in Murphy.

However, in New Jersey, online betting and gaming has been facilitated by assuming that all bets are placed and settled within casino walls as long as servers are located on premises.

The market could expand, with the Catawba Indian Nation having put forward plans to build a new tribal casino in Kings Mountain.

There is currently no tax rate set out in the bill, which requires the state to agree a new tribal gaming compact with any eligible operator before they could launch legal wagering. A revenue share deal would have to be determined as part of this compact.

Revenue raised through sports betting would be paid into the Indian Gaming Education Revenue Fund, which would be established through S154.

Currently the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians pays 8% of live table games revenue to North Carolina, per a 2012 compact.

The bill is yet to be assigned a House committee, though there is no statutory or constitutional requirement for when the regular session must end.

Image: Paul Hamilton