North Carolina Ready to Legalize; Ohio Sees Setback

Legal online sports betting in the state of North Carolina is coming as it could be signed into law as early as next week. House Bill 347 was officially passed by the North Carolina Senate on Thursday, and it now heads back to the House for a final vote. 

Since this vote originated in the House, it is expected to pass quickly, even though there were amendments made to the language of it. After it passes the House a second time, Governor Roy Cooper will sign the bill into law. 

According to the language of the bill, online sports betting will officially be legal on January 8, but that is not when the first online sportsbooks are expected. The industry must be launched within 12 months of that date, but you can expect online sportsbooks to launch sooner than later.

There were some concerns that the Senate would look to add additional gaming options before sending the bill back to the House, but that wasn’t the case. Senators had attempted to try to get more gambling passed, but they were working on a separate bill. 

North Carolina already has retail sports betting as it is run through the Native American tribes in the state. The majority of US sports betting is done online, and the state is hoping to generate new revenue through this deal. 

Some Changes Were Made

House Bill 347 didn’t see massive changes in the Senate, but there were enough amendments to raise some discussion in the House. One of the biggest changes made by the Senate was the fact that the tax rate was moved from 14 to 18%. 

With the state trying to cash in on as much revenue as possible, the North Carolina Senate added language that will prohibit operators from deducting promotions when reporting total revenue. That move has been done in other states to keep more money coming back into the state. 

The Senate was also looking to include more people into this new industry, and language was added to include horse race betting. Historical horse racing was removed from the bill as that would have created an issue with having legal video gaming machines, and the House likely would have vetoed. 

Sports Betting Slowing Down in Ohio

When the state of Ohio launched online and retail sports betting on January 1, 2023, it looked as if this state would become one of the biggest markets in the industry. The total sports betting handle was $1.1 billion during that first month, but things have slowed down in a big way since that point. 

April is always a slow month in the sports betting industry, as bettors tend to slow things down at the conclusion of March Madness. That was definitely felt by Ohio sportsbooks as the total sports betting handle fell by nearly 30%. 

The only saving grace for Ohio sportsbooks is the fact that they were able to win over 12% of the wagers that were placed. This allowed the state to rack up nearly $64 million in total sports betting revenue, with 10% of that going to the state for tax purposes. 

FanDuel Sportsbook continues to be the top online sportsbook in the state, and DraftKings Sportsbook is keeping the pressure on. There are currently 18 online sportsbooks active in the state, but that number could grow closer to 40 if all of the available licenses are claimed.