As PA sportsbooks open this week across the Keystone State, and NJ sports betting continues to produce millions of dollars in revenue, neighboring states have looked into the legalization of sports betting when legislature comes back in session in January of 2019. Two of these states happen to be North Carolina and South Carolina.
Last year, Rep. John Hardister, the North Carolina House majority whip and a Guilford County Republican, co-sponsored legislation to regulate fantasy sports betting in North Carolina. Fast-forward to 2018 and it looks as if NC sports betting may become legal in 2019.
Rep. John Hardister states legalized sports betting is “something North Carolina needs to address.” And adds, “We need to (legalize) sports betting and create a framework to regulate it. I’ve talked to colleagues, and there is a willingness to address the issue. We need to study it and see what other states are doing.”
Some nay sayers don't expect it to happen. NC Senate leader Phil Berger gave his thoughts on the matter, “I expect that the proper role for the state will be discussed as we enter the new session next year,” but did not offer any supportive comments to the possbilities.
Rep. Carla Cunningham, a Democrat from Mecklenburg County who co-sponsored the fantasy sports bill last year, said she would be open to discussing sports betting more in the future if it’s positioned as something that benefits areas of need.
Considering the potential revenue, one can say it is indeed benefits areas of need for the state.
It is no secret that NJ sportsbooks have been a juggernaut in terms of revenue since its inception, as the state has accumulated nearly $600 million over a span of four-and-a-half months. Not to mention $260 million of that came in the month of October alone, according to the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement.
The American Gambling Association estimated that there are $150 billion in illegal sports wagers every year. North Carolina has a population of 10 million, which is three times larger than Nevada’s three million, and in 2017, the Silver States generated $248.8 million in revenue from sports betting alone. At three times the size, North Carolina lawmakers have to consider what sort of revenue legalized NC sports betting can bring to the state. It may be only a short matter of time before we find out.
South Carolina introduced a bill last year that would have amended the state’s constitution to allow SC sports betting apps to offer legal gambling on professional & college sports. The legislative session ended before a vote could be taken, but there is already excitement to push the bill forwarded in the upcoming session following the success of NJ sportsbooks during the 2018 NFL season.
SC House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford said he “absolutely will introduce” legislation again to legalize sports betting in the state. Rutherford went on to highlight illegal sports wagers and said, “Why not allow them to do legally what they’ve been doing illegally, but tax them on it?” Rutherford said.
Despite a ban on sports betting, South Carolina lawmakers understand that millions of dollars are wagered in the state each year. Senator Brad Hutto states that South Carolina’s sports betting ban is a “missed opportunity.” There is a group of Democratic lawmakers who supported legalized sports betting last year and will push for it once more when legislators reconvene next January.
The NFL’s Carolina Panthers, who reside in North Carolina, have considered moving some operations across state lines, and some believe sports betting could influence the team’s decision. Rep. John Hardister, the North Carolina House majority whip has a vested interest in the Panthers’ potential move and believes the team’s pending decision could have an impact on lawmakers. “I suspect we’ll get to work on (sports gambling legislation) when the legislature is back in session” said Hardister. The push to legalize sports betting continues as we head into 2019.
As North Carolina and South Carolina are set for 2020 sportsbooks, 2019 expects to see NY Sportsbooks, PA Sportsbooks, and WV sportsbooks join NJ sportsbooks in offering legal sports betting apps in the US.