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North Carolina sports gambling bill clears another committee

August 9, 2021 GMT

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Legislation to license and tax sports betting in North Carolina cleared another state Senate committee on Monday.

The proposal has drawn support from many Democrats and Republicans, overcoming concerns from others that the measure will increase the number of residents addicted to gambling. Approved by the finance committee last week, the bill still must clear two more Senate panels before heading to the floor for a full vote.

Sen. Jim Perry, a Lenoir County Republican and bill sponsor, said a small share of Americans are susceptible to becoming gambling addicts and that many of those with addictions may transfer their habits to another area. He’s previously noted it’s already easy for anyone to place an online bet and argues it makes sense to regulate these activities and generate revenue.

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The Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, opposes the bill, arguing it will create new addicts and cause further harm for those who already suffer.

“The most predatory industry in the country purposefully targets and exploits the financially desperate and cultivates addition for profits,” Creech told lawmakers during the hearing.

Following a 2019 U.S. Supreme Court decision paving the way for legalized sports betting in all 50 states, interest from state lawmakers to set up a system has soared. At least 20 states and the District of Columbia offer sports betting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

If the bill passes the Senate and House and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper signs it into law, the North Carolina Education Lottery commission would issue 10 to 12 interactive sports wagering operator licenses.

Half of the net proceeds the state would collect from the licensees, including an 8% tax on gross revenues, would go toward a special fund to attract sporting events, while the remaining half would head to the state’s coffers. Under one version of the bill analyzed by the legislature’s fiscal staff, North Carolina would collect an estimated $8 to $24 million annually.

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Anderson is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.