By L.A. Williams
Christian Action League
August 6, 2021
Despite warnings that sports wagering would create more gambling addicts and draw money away from legitimate businesses, the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday gave its blessing to Senate Bill 688 – Sports Wagering, which would open the door to a massive expansion of gambling in North Carolina.
“While our eyes may bulge with dollar signs when looking at this bill, let me warn you that by passing such proposals, we are slowly but surely sawing off the limb on which we sit,” the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, told lawmakers, reminding them that sports betting, like all gambling, is parasitic and undermines the work ethic that is essential to a strong economy.
Creech said because of the two-minute time limit for public comment he had to edit out part of his speech to the Senate Finance Committee. But knowing many of the members of the committee would also be on other committees hearing the measure later, he sent his full comments by email to them. In the remarks cut from the speech Creech admonished, “I find it ironic businesses are now struggling to find workers because too many are willing to stay at home and draw a government check rather than work. Yet the media, at the same time, reports we’ve had record sales for the state lottery. I suggest that’s not only because of the pandemic, but because the growth of gambling has helped contribute to our something for nothing mentality as a culture.”
Not only would the proposed measure authorize licensed commercial enterprises to conduct sports wagering, it would allow for betting on professional and collegiate sports including games involving colleges and universities in the state. Further, sports venues could obtain privileges for on-site betting.
According to the bill, gambling companies would pay $500,000 to apply for a license and then turn 8 percent of adjusted gross revenues in to the state. Half of those funds would be earmarked for efforts to attract national sporting events to North Carolina. The rest would go to the General Fund, and according to bill sponsors Jim Perry (R-Lenoir) and Paul Lowe (D-Forsyth), could help meet needs in low-income parts of the state, which is the main reason they say they filed the bill.
Admitting that his own mother didn’t like the legislation, Perry told the Finance Committee that he believes it could bring in $20 million to $50 million. He justified the proposal by arguing that gamblers in North Carolina are already betting on sports, but without the state getting a share of the profits.
“We have sports betting today for those who want to bet. It’s just not something regulated and taxed by the state,” Perry said. “This is an opportunity to regulate it.”
He admitted that there are consequences to every choice, but said that social impacts of expanding gambling are “tough to estimate.”
But John Rustin, with the North Carolina Family Policy Council, said lawmakers must count the costs.
“Decades of research clearly show that the more prevalent gambling is and the more forms of gambling that are legalized and advertised, the more citizens will go gamble. Of those who do, a significant percentage, estimated between 3 and 5 percent, will develop a problem or pathological gambling issue,” Rustin said. “And just like with many other addictive behaviors, there are very high correlations between gambling addiction and increases in theft, embezzlement, job loss, personal bankruptcy, substance abuse, domestic violence, child abuse, divorce and even suicide.”
He said that in addition to harming individuals and families, the bill would degrade our state’s rich sports heritage.
“With the passage of this bill, gambling and not the games themselves will become the centerpiece of sports competition in North Carolina,” Rustin warned.
Senate Bill 688, filed just months after sports betting was legalized at the state’s two casinos via an amended gaming compact with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, next moves to the Senate’s Judiciary Committee.
Here are five quick steps you can take to stop sports wagering from being legalized in North Carolina:
1. Please send your best gift to the Christian Action League to help us win this fight. CLICK HERE to make a secure online donation immediately.
To send your donation by mail, write:
Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc.
6325 Falls of Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC 27615
2. If you don’t know who represents you in the N.C. Senate, CLICK HERE and follow the prompts. You will also find his/her contact information via the same link.
3. Send an email in your own words urging your state Senator to VOTE AGAINST SB 688 – Sports Wagering. (Be sure to tell him/her that you are one of their constituents.)
4. Follow-up your email with a phone call to your state Senator and reiterate what you said in your email. (Be sure to tell him/her that you are one of their constituents.)
5. Would you please pray earnestly for the defeat or failure of this legislation?