By L.A. Williams
Christian Action League
May 26, 2023
A bill legalizing mobile sports gambling passed the Senate Commerce and Insurance Committee Wednesday and could come before the full Senate next week. But while lawmakers focused on an estimated $60 million a year supporters claim it could bring to state coffers, the Rev. Mark Creech was on hand to remind them of the virtues such a bill would diminish, as gambling appeals to the “weakness and worst of what is in all of us.”
In addition to fostering covetousness, gambling promotes an “easy come, easy go” philosophy and is an expression of recklessness not directed by reason but ruled by feelings, emotion and chance, Creech told the committee.
“Gambling quite subtly, imperceptibly produces a growing callousness to the interests and well-being of others,” he said. “We may hitch it to various noble and charitable causes, but at its core the activity undermines service, stewardship, and a strong work ethic. In place of these, it establishes luck and chance as a new set of values.”
Read all of Rev. Creech’s speech before the Committee by clicking here
House Bill 347, which won approval from the House in March, was modified significantly in committee with the latest version increasing the proposed tax rate on sports wagering operators from 14% to 18%. The bill would legalize pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing and allow in-person betting at many sports venues, including those that are home to an MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL, NHL or NWSL team and those that host a NASCAR national race or a golf tournament expected to draw more than 50,000 spectators.
Other changes made to the bill in committee include adding Charlotte, East Carolina and Appalachian State to the list of UNC System college athletic departments that would receive funds from the gambling. Each school would get $300,000 a year plus 20 percent of gambling proceeds after other payouts. The remainder of the proceeds would be designated for a variety of uses including gambling addiction programs, youth sports and a fund to attract major events to the state.
Like earlier iterations, the 27-page bill would allow betting on professional, college and other sports through apps on mobile devices beginning Jan. 8. Currently gambling on sports is legal in North Carolina, but only in-person at three tribal casinos.
John Rustin, president of the NC Family Policy Council, warned lawmakers that even by conservative estimates, the state should expect to see “tens of thousands more of our state’s citizens and their families victimized by gambling addiction if this bill is enacted into law.”
“If passed, HB 347 would impose a massive expansion of legalized gambling on North Carolina, as it would sanction sports gambling on every computer, tablet, and mobile phone in the state,” Rustin told the committee. “It would also flood our state—and especially our children and young adults—with ceaseless advertisements and promotions for gambling on sporting events.”
“Gambling will become the centerpiece of sports competition in North Carolina, instead of the games, the sports themselves,” he said.
Matt Floyd from People’s Baptist Church also addressed the committee in opposition to the bill. He said that having pastored three churches, he had seen firsthand marriages and families ruined by gambling.
“The worst was in a town that had a casino in it, but with this you are proposing to not just have a casino in their town, but in their living room,” Floyd said. “I believe that each of you got into politics to help people and you work hard to do that every day, but this does not help people.”
He said the National Council on Problem Gambling conducted a review of more than 140 studies and found that the rate of addiction is at least twice as high with sports betting as with other gambling.
The Senate version of HB – 347 must still come before two more committees before reaching the Senate floor for a vote.