Legal Sports Betting May Not Come to North Carolina Anytime Soon

Legal Sports Betting May Not Come to North Carolina Anytime Soon

As many other places in the United States continue their push toward legalized sports betting, North Carolina remains among the places where the future of its approval is in doubt. There has been legislation proposed to greenlight some forms of sports betting, but current loopholes, economic inequalities, and skepticism surrounding projections could prevent the state from introducing legal gambling anytime soon—or maybe at all.

Don't expect sports gambling in North Carolina to be legalized over the near term. That is the biggest takeaway we can glean from a recent investigation into skill game establishments throughout the state that allows customers to place wagers on whether they can complete tasks such as shooting virtual fish.

If that sounds like gambling, well, that's because it is. And the very fact these skill games exist, coupled with an uptick in legal sports betting online throughout the USA, might lead you to think North Carolina is on the verge of joining the sports-gambling wave. North Carolina does, after all, have a bill proposed that would bring legal sports betting to the state. They wouldn't even have gone that far if they're uninterested.

Still, the political and economical climate in the state suggests just the opposite: that legal sports betting may not come to North Carolina anytime soon.

The Future of Sports Betting in North Carolina is Hazy

Invariably, people expect sports betting to eventually hit North Carolina. The process is deemed an issue of when for just about every state. But the when of it all matters. Is it months? Years? Perhaps actually never?

The presence of skill games in North Carolina makes it difficult to discern their intention. On the one hand, they already have on-site locations essentially accepting outcome bets on whether players can complete a task or event. That is sports betting in a nutshell. On the other hand, the calculus changes when looking at professional and college sports specifically. Bettors are not playing those games; they are observers. That has allowed opponents of sports wagering to argue such transactions become matters of change rather than skill.

Sports betting proponents will, in turn, argue that's not the case. Many gamblers do extensive research, follow statistical models and just generally invest a lot of time in understanding sports and athletes to give themselves a leg-up on the house. They are not leaving their investments to full-on chance.

These people have a much stronger argument so long as skill-game establishments remain in business throughout North Carolina. Which begs the question: What's the argument against legalized sports betting?

The Case Against Sports Betting in North Carolina

Any pro-sports-betting argument worth its salt will point out that states stand to make a boatload of money from legalized gambling. People within North Carolina are likely already using online sportsbooks reviews to find sites that will accept their wagers. Why won't the state just endorse these transactions, hand out sports betting licenses, and capitalize off that money already being spent?

Complicated logistics are part of the answer. Legalizing sports betting requires an extensive process in which the local government must not only pass necessary votes but also identify companies that will be licensed to accept wagers; monitor physical locations prepared to accept sports bets; create a commission that oversees the creation and implementation of online sports betting websites; and so much more. 

Change can become prohibitive when there's that much work involved. And it can be a lot more taxing for a state such as North Carolina, where there's zero sports-betting infrastructure in place. States like New York at least have neighboring exceptions such as New Jersey and Atlantic City off which to model their approach. North Carolina knows no such luxury.

On top of that, there are those who argue the state doesn't have that much to gain from legalized sports betting. Some experts have pegged their potential revenue at around $1 billion over the first five years, assuming a 40 percent tax rate. But states such as Illinois have drastically missed their revenue projects after giving the green light to sports betting both online and in person. 

How Sports Betting Could Still Come to North Carolina?

Over-ambitious revenue projections, of course, aren't the worst thing in the world. As many North Carolina government officials are quick to point out, any extra money at all will be useful and can be funneled toward HBCUs, community colleges, and the state's general tax fund.

Still, what North Carolina really needs is heightened interest from their larger city hubs. Currently, most of their skill-game establishments are located in lower-income areas. Studies have actually shown these skill-game businesses are disproportionately targeting neighborhoods with lower-income households and fewer banks, and that they are very rarely seen throughout North Carolina's ritzier regions.

Until gambling-related activities become more common across all income sectors, it's unlikely the state gets a majority push from the government to legalize online sports gambling. Potential revenue, after all, can only be maximized if all sorts of demographics in North Carolina are proven patrons. Right now, that's just not the case.

For the time being, it's more likely the government institutes stricter tax policies for the skill-game entities that have popped up in lower-income areas. North Carolina might even look into eradicating them completely, since their very existence and entire business model are arguably predatory, rather than look into legalizing and expanding sports betting operations throughout the state.

Moral of the story? Legal sports betting in North Carolina may not actually be inevitable. And even if it is, it's probably safe to say that inevitability isn't imminent.

Check out this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can find a place that will accept all your sports bets: