By Peyton Majors
Christian Action League
March 31, 2023
A bill that would legalize sports gambling in North Carolina passed the House of Representatives Wednesday, with a bipartisan coalition of supporters touting increased revenue for the state but an equally bipartisan coalition of opponents warning about its negative impact on children and families.
The bill, H.B. 347, passed the House by a vote of 64-45, with 29 Democrats joining 35 Republicans in supporting it and 16 Democrats uniting with 29 Republicans in opposing it. It would legalize wagering on college and professional sports from cell phones and other electronic devices on apps such as DraftKings and FanDuel.
It now heads to the state Senate.
“Our caucuses are divided because this isn’t about politics,” said Democratic Rep. Marcia Morey, who opposed the bill. “It’s about human behavior. It’s about our values. This bill has the potential to change our culture, as it has in many other states.”
Sports gambling, she warned, is a “vice.”
“The revenue is coming off the backs of gamblers,” Morey added. “It is not someone’s labor. It is not someone’s invention or company.”
Democratic Rep. Abe Jones, another opponent, quoted his father and said supporters were “calling wrong ‘right’ and right ‘wrong.’”
“It is a predatory industry,” Jones said. “You make your money from preying on the weak, not the man or woman who can afford it. I can say very few can. Most people gambling can’t afford it.”
The state, he said, is telling its citizens about gambling: “It’s good for you.”
“It’s going to harm somebody who’s too weak to walk out,” Jones said. “They’re gonna borrow money. It’s gonna bring in the loan sharkers.”
Jones rejected arguments that the bill is good because it includes language benefiting historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
“I love HBCUs. I want HBCUs to get money — you bet I do. But not this money,” Jones said. “You don’t have to marry a vice to get money, we get the money straight up.”
Rep. Jay Adams, a Republican and an opponent, said the bill, if it becomes law, could negatively impact college athletes.
“Friends of mine who have children who are high-level athletes have expressed a concern that this might put undue pressure on their children, or even possibly endanger them,” Adams said. “… This bill is going to hurt our state.”
GOP Rep. Jimmy Dixon, an opponent, told members, “If something is wrong, no amount of debate can make it right.”
Morey argued that sports gambling will negatively affect children. They will grow up consuming ads promoting gambling, she said. Some children, she said, will be raised in families with addicts.
“I talked to a gambler who had a serious problem who bet 400 times in a game [worth] $20,000,” she said. “That was just one game, one event. He had a serious problem. And not only him, his family, his kids, his job.”
Morey asked, “Where do we want our revenue in this state to come from?”
“And sports betting is only the beginning,” Morey said. “The bigger prize of casino betting is next. And that’s where the real money is. And that’s what will be happening next. Think of your kids, think of your grandchildren, and the allure of what we’re creating here.”
Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said supporters of the bill had turned their backs on North Carolina’s families.
“We should mark this day,” Creech said. “We witnessed the power of avarice and greed (the love of money), which are at the heart of the gambling enterprise. We saw how the spirit of covetousness overcomes all reason, all argument, and all caution.”
Too many Democrats, he said, “abandoned what they have advocated so passionately for in the past.”
“Though I have not always agreed, I believe their intentions were good,” Creech said. “But it is Democrats who championed social justice. Yet sports wagering, commercialized gambling, is a form of economic predation, grinding the faces of the poor into the ground. It benefits multinational corporations while oppressing the lower classes.”
Too many Republicans, Creech said, “abandoned what they have advocated so passionately for in the past.”
“Republicans have always championed smaller government, but this will increase the size of state government and, for its sustenance, fleece its citizens, even allowing some citizens to be enslaved for profit, which undercuts any genuine argument in support of individual liberties,” Creech said. “Republicans have consistently championed traditional values. But by voting for this bill, they have undermined individual enterprise, thrift, a strong work ethic, self-denial, rational thinking, and responsibility to be set aside for luck, immediate self-satisfaction, and self-indulgence — an absolute reversal of traditional values.”
Take Action Before It’s Too Late
Please contact your State Senator and urge him/her to vote against HB 347 – Sports Wagering.
If you don’t know the contact information of your State Senator, go to this link and follow the prompts. 1) Put in your address; 2) Click on “NC House;” 3) Click on the name of your Representative and his or her contact information will appear.
Tell your State Senator in your own words that you don’t believe Sports Gambling for North Carolina is a good idea. Urge them to vote, “NO!”