Two Bills to Legalize Sports Betting Legislation Coming up in Virginia

Virginia and North Carolina on a map

Legislation to legalize sports betting has been introduced in Virginia, and the possibility of legalization is being discussed more and more in both North and South Carolina.

Most states in the US have been talking about sports betting since the Supreme Court ended the federal ban in May. Several states are offering sportsbooks and seeing significant revenues each month. Opening dates are near for others, such as Rhode Island, and others have sports betting bills in the works.

Forward progress in Virginia

Virginia Senator Chap Petersen is introducing legislation that would legalize sports betting. His bill calls for the new revenues to be used to significantly reduce tuition costs in the state’s community colleges.

Delegate Mark Sickles is offering another sports betting bill. His bill would impose a 15% tax on the revenues. He believes this would bring additional revenues of $41m (£31.8m).

Petersen outlined his feelings about legal sports betting: “There is no reason to keep it illegal when our neighboring states are already moving to legalize. We should keep that business in Virginia, along with the tax revenue.”

His measure is known as the Virginia Sports Gaming Tuition Reduction Act. A municipality would need to have its own referendum on the issue before issuing any licenses.

Tax revenues would be split between the community college system and local governments.

College sports betting

As part of Petersen’s plan, there would be no betting on college sports, even on games involving out-of-state teams. Sickle’s proposal would ban betting on games involving Virginia universities and colleges but betting on other college games would be allowed.

Sickles wants the state lottery to oversee sports betting, with the power to issue as many as five sports betting licenses.

Talking about his proposal, Sickle said: “This legislation provides a framework for an open, transparent and responsible market for legal sports betting. It will protect consumers while generating revenue to allow Virginia to compete for major research projects that create jobs and help to diversify our economy away from over-reliance on federal spending.”

Sports betting in the Carolinas

There has not been much talk about sports betting legalization in North and South Carolina even though North Carolina is home to three teams that belong to major sports leagues.

However, it has become a more common topic of conversation and changes seem to be on the horizon. One person who has already shown interest in legalizing sports betting in North Carolina is David Tepper. He is the billionaire manager of a hedge fund and the new owner of the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League.

During his introductory press conference in July, Tepper suggested that legalization could be coming to North Carolina and that the state’s professional teams could stand to benefit significantly.

He said: “You think about the fans and you want to keep the fans in the building. Eventually, it’s going to hit North and South Carolina. It has to, from a revenue standpoint. You have issues with paying teachers and other things down here, and tax revenue, so it’s inevitable.”

Tepper grew up mainly in New Jersey, a state that was the first to make sports betting legal following the ending of the federal ban. New Jersey has seen significant success from sports betting.

Many benefits

The benefits of sports betting legalization are obvious. It would help to provide funding for numerous key areas, such as teacher pay, law enforcement, and infrastructure projects.

It will also help to engage more people in sports, whether through going to games or watching on television. Many professional teams and leagues are already embracing legalization in the states where it is legal.

The Miami Dolphins are helping to push for legalization of sports betting in Florida also. According to a report from the American Gaming Association and Nielsen Sports, the NFL’s yearly revenues might rise by $2.3bn (£1.8bn) because of legalization. The NBA has also embraced sports betting by partnering with numerous operators.

Political moves in the Carolinas

While people in the Carolinas are discussing this issue, more work needs to be done on the political front.

John Hardister, the majority whip for the North Carolina House, was a co-sponsor for daily fantasy sports legislation during the last session. He believes that the next logical step is legal sports betting. He says that his colleagues are willing to address this issue once they take the proper steps.

Moves are also ongoing in South Carolina on the issue. In 2017, a bill was proposed that would have amended the state constitution to allow pro sports betting. However, the legislative session ended before a vote could take place.

House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford introduced this bill and will do so again when the 2019 session begins. Illegal sports betting is very popular in the two states. Legalization would create a legal framework to protect bettors and add to the state coffers.