Citizen Christians, please take action before it’s too late
By Peyton Majors
Christian Action League
March 24, 2023
A bill that would legalize sports betting in North Carolina sailed through three House committees this week over objections by a leading Democrat that legalization would increase addiction and ruin lives.
The bill, H.B. 347, passed the House Commerce Committee 17-10, the Judiciary Committee 7-3 and the Finance Committee via voice vote, likely sending it to the full chamber, where it could receive a vote next week. It would legalize wagering on college and professional sports from cell phones and other electronic devices.
A similar bill narrowly failed in the House last year.
Democratic Rep. Deb Butler was the leading opponent during two committee hearings. She cited a Rutgers University Center study that revealed that 13 percent of residents in the Garden State — where sports wagering is legal — have a gambling problem. Nationwide, it’s 3 to 5 percent.
“Why do we want to facilitate something that we know has the capacity to destroy that many people’s families?” Butler asked the bill’s sponsors during a committee hearing. “The sky’s the limit. When you’ve got these unrelenting ads, and it’s constant, we know that young people, impressionable people are going to be particularly vulnerable.”
Gambling, she argued, is an addictive activity.
“If we thought that people, recreationally, gambled responsibly and within limited parameters and on a budget, that would be one thing, but the numbers don’t work for the house when it’s like that,” Butler said. “So we are knowingly sanctioning additional abusive behavior, excessive behavior, uncontrollable behavior, and heartbreaking behavior.”
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.
Butler and Republican Rep. Phil Shepard supported an amendment that would have prohibited credit cards from being used for sports wagering. The amendment failed.
“I was at a store recently and someone was buying a lottery ticket, and they refused to let them use a credit card to buy a lottery ticket,” Shepard said. The North Carolina Lottery prohibits credit cards from being used for lottery tickets.
“It’s one thing to responsibly use funds that you’ve earned and you have in the bank, and it’s another matter entirely to drive up a huge credit card debt to support gambling,” Butler said.
Butler also pushed back against the argument that credit cards are a form of commerce similar to cash.
“We’re talking about an industry that has a horrible, addictive quality,” she said. “That is the distinguishing element. We’re not talking about running up a bill on tennis shoes, or hot dogs or whatever else you’re putting on your credit card. We’re talking about people’s livelihoods, and we’re talking about families who have suffered at the hands of a gambling addiction.”
Supporters of the bill argued that North Carolina is losing money when its residents gamble in other states. Butler rejected that argument, too.
“It is a fiction to suggest that the amount of gambling in this state or anywhere else is fixed, and that we’re just shifting it from the illegitimate offshore place that it’s currently located to a regulated and controlled place,” Butler said. “We know that gambling is going to exponentially increase in North Carolina.”
Meanwhile, an amendment that would have prohibited betting on college sports also failed.
The bill is expected to be taken up in the House Rules Committee sometime early next week, and then sent to the House floor for a full vote by House members.
Take Action Before It’s Too Late
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!”