By Peyton Majors
Christian Action League
June 2, 2023
A bill that would legalize sports gambling in North Carolina is on the verge of becoming law after it passed the state Senate this week over objections that it will lead to a proliferation of addiction and broken homes.
The bill, H.B. 347, passed the Senate by a vote of 38-11, with 16 Democrats joining 22 Republicans in support. Voting against it were three Democrats and eight Republicans. It would legalize gambling on college and professional sports from cell phones and other electronic devices through companies such as DraftKings and FanDuel.
It now heads back to the House, where it previously passed. The current version includes minor changes that have not passed that body.
Sen. Julie Mayfield, a Democrat, was one of the most vocal opponents during floor debate.
“We are now talking about putting a casino in everybody’s pocket that they can access 24-7, 365,” Mayfield said. “Even with the promised revenue of this bill, it is beyond me why we would legalize a business model that succeeds only when individuals fail.”
North Carolina can expect an increase in gambling addiction due to the legislature’s action, she warned.
“Gambling is the only addictive disorder that is based on behavior and not an outside substance,” Mayfield said. “If we could go back and put stricter guardrails on the use of opioids, we certainly would. If we could go back and reduce access to tobacco and save all the lives that have been lost to cancer, we probably would.”
Sen. Lisa Grafstein, a Democrat, agreed.
“Right now, it’s only those who are really specifically motivated and have the technological savvy who are able to, who are able to bet illegally,” Grafstein said. “And once ads are everywhere, and there’s an easy way for even the most technologically unsophisticated among us, such as myself, to bet on our phones, those numbers are just going to skyrocket.”
Sen. Jim Burgin, a Republican, urged his colleagues to oppose the bill.
“People lose their homes, spouses and kids over gambling addiction. Gambling can be just as addictive as drugs and alcohol,” Burgin said.
Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, spoke against the bill earlier in the week when it was considered in the Senate Rules Committee.
“Emblazoned upon our currency are the words ‘In God We Trust,’ and having it there reminds us that the country’s strength and stability depend upon acknowledging God in His commands, including honesty, integrity and justice — not the pursuit of wealth. And I just have to ask: Do we really believe this? In a moment, such as this one, we are tested to determine our worthiness of liberty. Vice is the enemy of individual freedom and a healthier free society.”
Upon passage of the bill in the Senate, Creech expressed frustration with House and Senate Republicans.
“Evangelicals like myself are very thankful that North Carolina GOP lawmakers came together and passed legislation that banned abortions in North Carolina after 12 weeks,” Creech said. “And then, they heroically overcame Governor Roy Cooper’s veto of the bill. It was a historic and happy moment for which they deserve much thanks. Banning abortion at 12 weeks will save many unborn lives.
“However, legalizing gambling will extend misery for the living on numerous levels, and some will commit suicide because of their gambling problems,” Creech said. “The harms that come from gambling include addiction, financial problems, relationship difficulties, mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, and the potential for criminal activity such as fraud and embezzlement. It can lead to the loss of employment, housing and other vital possessions or belongings.
“This is exceedingly disappointing and disillusioning coming from Republicans who hold supermajorities in both chambers of the General Assembly,” Creech said, concluding his thoughts. “This is the kind of morally bankrupt initiative the Christian Action League was fighting when the Democrats were in control. By voting for Republicans we hoped for a better day. This precipitates feelings of Deja Vu.”