The bill is receiving both bipartisan support and disdain, which makes its path to legalization unique. Rep. Ashton Clemmons (D-Greensboro), one of the bill’s main sponsors, also represents an area right next to Harrison, who has been outspokenly negative towards the bill.
Last year, anti-gambling Democrats and Republicans fought against the sports betting bill for moral reasons, many of which resurfaced this week.
“Why do we want to facilitate something that we know has the capacity to destroy that many people’s families?” said Rep. Deb Butler (D-New Hanover). “We are knowingly sanctioning additional abusive behavior, obsessive behavior, uncontrollable behavior and heartbreaking behavior.”
That is not to say that there is not also profound support for the legalization of online sports betting. Namely, Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper and officials from the state’s professional sports teams believe that this is the right time to bring change to the Tar Heel State.
Many in favor of legalization believe that online sports betting is already happening throughout North Carolina, and failing to legalize it will create a larger criminal issue and also cause the state to lose out on valuable taxable income.
“We know that some believe that gambling is a vice and we shouldn’t consider legalizing it,” said Rep. Zack Hawkins (D-Durham County), one of the bill’s 50 sponsors. “But much like we allow for taxes on alcohol and cigarettes, we can use this revenue from activity that is widely happening in our state for good.”
Tuesday’s round of voting also saw amendments that would limit betting to professional sports teams and deny customers the opportunity to make deposits with credit cards fail.
Early estimates revealed that North Carolina would recoup an extra $60 million in tax money in the fiscal year 2024-25.