The governor of North Carolina, Roy Cooper, has already ratified a sports betting study bill, which would possibly function as a gateway for gambling expansion in the future, should the study yield positive results.
The new bill hands authority to the North Carolina Lottery Commission to commission a study that would be conducted by a third-party company, that would look into the possible impact of different kinds of gambling expansion.
A key element of this study would be to evaluate the effect of legalizing sports betting both in a retail and online setting. At the moment, there are 13 states that have legal sports betting. Five of these states also feature legal mobile sports betting.
As part of this legislation, it looks at possibly establishing a new regulatory body for oversight. It would put in place a much-improved structure for possible gambling expansion in the future.
While the primary focus of this bill is sports betting, there would also be an evaluation of the potential effect of legalizing casino games, slots and/or online poker.
North Carolina is considered to be one of the only states in the country that does not have any land-based gambling entities, such as pari-mutuel horse tracks, card rooms or any gambling facilities. The only gambling operations in the state are the state lottery and a pair of tribal casinos.
The Republican Party is in control of both the Senate and the House in North Carolina. The party is elated with this legislation given that its aim is to only study potential gambling expansion. The party had already guaranteed that this bill would not hand down a mandate for the actual expansion of gambling in the state.
Cooper is a Democrat and he had very little choice than to sign the bill as a veto would have been overridden. This bill is a huge step forward in a conservative state when it comes to gambling.
The two tribal casinos in the state — Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino and Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort — were given the approval to open sportsbooks. This is for retail sports betting only and these sportsbooks should open their doors to the public by the end of 2019.
Both facilities will offer sports betting on professional and college sports, including for teams from the state. Both of these tribal casinos are located in rural settings on the western side of North Carolina.