Please contact your Representative in the N.C. House
By Peyton Majors
Christian Action League
March 17, 2023
The battle over sports betting is back at the North Carolina state capitol.
A new bill that would legalize wagering on college and professional sports from electronic devices was introduced in the North Carolina House of Representatives this week, less than a year after a gambling bill was narrowly defeated in the same body.
The bill, H.B. 347, would legalize sports betting from cell phones and other electronic devices, increasing revenue for the state but also — critics warn — leading to countless citizens becoming addicted to gambling due to its ease. Last year, The Washington Post and The New York Times published groundbreaking reports on the industry, quoting experts who said sports gambling can be more addictive than traditional casino gambling due to the betters’ emotional attachment to teams and the “illusion” that sports is less random.
“Sports wagering … shall not be considered unlawful,” the language of the 24-page bill says.
Among the primary sponsors are House Majority Leader John Bell, a Republican, and Democratic Reps. Zack Hawkins and Ashton Clemmons.
“This bill is a bipartisan bill and we’ve learned a good bit from both sides about some of the tweaks that needed to happen,” Rep. Jason Saine (Republican), another sponsor, told WRAL. “We’ve worked to accommodate those concerns, and we believe we have a bill that can do better than pass. It can get broad support from both caucuses.”
Although the bill has bipartisan support, it has bipartisan opposition, too.
A 2018 Supreme Court decision opened the door for states to legalize sports wagering. It’s legal in more than half the states. The North Carolina bill would legalize sports wagering on apps such as DraftKings and FanDuel.
“There’s the potential for a sharp increase in gambling addiction,” Democratic Rep. Pricey Harrison said during a recent episode of On The Record, according to WRAL. “The amount of money being put in gambling addiction is insufficient, it’s a fraction of what’s needed.”
In Ohio, where sports wagering became legal this year, 48 calls were placed each day to the state’s problem gambling helpline in the first month of legalization, according to WRAL. That’s three times the calls that were made one year earlier (15, in January 2022).
The bill specifically allows gamblers to use credit cards to place a bet — a factor that will only drive-up gamblers’ debt, opponents say.
“It’s a predatory industry,” Harrison told WRAL. “And it’s looking to raise money. It isn’t looking to raise money for our state, it’s looking to raise money for the industry.”
A 2019 study published in the journal Addictive Behaviors found that “sports betting, relative to non-sports betting, has been more strongly linked to gambling problems and cognitive distortions related to illusion of control, probability control and interpretive control.”
The ease of sports gambling — betters can place a wager from their couch while watching the game — only adds to the danger of addiction.
“You can play as fast as you want, as quick as you want. The technology makes it so fast and so easy,” Jim Maney, executive director of the New York Council on Problem Gambling, told The Post. “All of a sudden, how much money are we spending? Before you know it, you’re going down the rabbit hole.”
Sports gambling is emotionally and psychologically different from other types of gambling, experts say. Betters often have a life-long emotional attachment to certain teams that they wouldn’t have to a Las Vegas card game, for example. Also, betters are more likely to think — wrongly — they can regularly “outsmart” the oddsmakers of DraftKings and FanDuel apps due to their personal knowledge about sports.
“We don’t know what it’s doing to a new generation under the age of 21,” Timothy Fong, co-director of the UCLA Gambling Studies Program, told The Post. “Before, you couldn’t even talk about gambling without someone saying, ‘You can’t talk about gambling.’ This generation is growing up with gambling on their TVs. All we can say is that it is a critical issue: The earlier you start gambling — and gambling regularly — that’s the biggest risk factor for addiction.”
Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said that H.B. 347 – Sports Wagering will be taken up in the House Commerce Committee on Tuesday and then the House Judiciary I Committee on Wednesday.
“It’s intentional that they want to move the bill as quickly as possible,” said Rev. Creech. “If lawmakers were really given lots of time to deliberate and debate the measure, they might not vote for it. But I think legislative fatigue has set in and many lawmakers don’t want to have to deal with it anymore. Even those who personally oppose it feel like gambling is here and not going away. So, we might as well give in. Not exactly profiles in courage.”
Rev. Creech added that he believes there was only one way to stop the bill’s current momentum towards passage, lawmakers have to hear from concerned citizen Christians who say they don’t want it. “If the phones of legislators aren’t ringing off the hooks, then the silence communicates complicity,” he said. “Complicity communicates approval.”
Take Action Now
Please contact your Representative in the N.C. House and urge him/her to vote against HB 347 – Sports Wagering.
If you don’t know the contact information of your Representative, 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 Representative in your own words that you don’t believe Sports Gambling for North Carolina is a good idea. Urge them to vote, “NO!”