New legislative approvals in North Carolina and Louisiana have moved the states one step closer to the introduction of legal sports betting. [Image:Shutterstock.com]
Good news for betting backers
In North Carolina and Louisiana, lawmakers are working to introduce legal sports betting. Both states have made significant progress this week, with a bill passing through the Senate and emergency betting rules gaining approval.
North Carolina’s Senate has given the green light to new sports betting legislation. Lawmakers had their say on Senate Bill 688 on Thursday, voting to approve the bill 26-19. The legislation, which would legalize online and retail sports betting across the state, will now head to the House of Representatives.
North Carolina sportsbooks could begin offering wagering as early as January 1 2022
The bill will need approval of both the House and Governor Roy Cooper before it can become law. If SB 688 ultimately receives the governor’s signature, North Carolina sportsbooks could begin offering wagering as early as January 1 2022.
Meanwhile, Louisiana is further along in its own process. Governor John Bel Edwards signed framework and tax bills in June, paving the way for the Louisiana Gaming Control Board (LGCB) to begin forming rules for the market. The gaming regulator passed emergency betting rules on Thursday.
Amended bill makes it through
Although North Carolina’s senators approved SB 688 on its second reading Thursday, they have added some amendments to the legislation. The minor changes relate to costs and funding for problem gambling services in the state. If passed, it will make the North Carolina Lottery Commission regulator for the industry, with the power to issue licenses.
As per SB 688, the NCLC would have permission to offer between ten and 12 operating licenses. Licensees would pay an initial fee of $500,000 plus a $100,000 renewal fee. The bill allows bettors to place wagers online or in-person but only at, or within half a mile of, sporting venues in the state.
As reported by AP News, the bill’s sponsor Sen. Jim Perry said legalization will prevent black-market gambling. He argued that it is better to regulate the industry and collect revenue for local needs, such as public education. “I look at this as more of a voluntary tax from people already taking place in that market,” commented Perry on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Senator Jim Burgin was among those to vote against the bill. He argued that sports betting “produces very little money” for the state, and places young people at risk. Similarly, North Carolina Family Council Executive Director John Rustin argued that legalization would create more problem gamblers.
An emergency approval
Louisiana has been on a path towards sports betting since 55 of the state’s parishes voted for legalization last year. In June 2021, Louisiana lawmakers approved two bills to finalize the regulatory framework for legal sports betting. After the legislation received Governor John Bel Edwards’s signature later that month, it just needed the LGCB to develop accompanying rules.
We will work as fast as we can”
The gaming regulator has now unanimously approved an emergency version of those sports betting regulations, which will go into effect on Monday. The temporary rules will last for 180 days, allowing the LGCB to work on a permanent set in the meantime. Commenting during Thursday’s meeting, LGCB Director Ronnie Johns said: ”We will work as fast as we can, but in a compliant way.”
For now however, the emergency approval could permit sportsbooks to open in Louisiana before or during the NFL season this year, as opposed to the former target of 2022. The regulator has still not made its new rules public however, even though it indicated that the information would likely reach stakeholders by the end of the day Thursday.