@NCCapitol

NC gambling bill takes another step, but time is running short this year

Posted September 15
Updated November 11

— A bill to legalize sports gambling in North Carolina inched forward again Wednesday, but it faces a winding road and a tight timetable to become law this year.

Senate Bill 688 has already cleared a major hurdle, passing the state Senate last month. Now, it's in the House, which on Wednesday referred the bill to four committees. What comes next is up to those committee chairs.

"I don't know if it'll pass or not, but we referred it out today, and if those committee chairs want to hear it, they can," House Rules Chairman Destin Hall, a key leader in the House Republican majority, said Wednesday. "I expect they probably will, but, in terms of timeline, I don't know."

The bill would start in House Commerce, then head to House Judiciary 1, then to House Finance and then to House Rules, which decides when the bill actually goes to the House floor for a full chamber vote. That process can move quickly or not, but time is running out on this long legislative session.

House Commerce Chairman John Sauls, R-Lee, said Wednesday that he expects his committee will hear the bill, but he didn't have anything scheduled yet, and the House is off until next week.

Hall, R-Caldwell, said the bill hasn't been before the House Republican caucus yet for detailed discussion, usually a key step if legislation is going to move forward in the GOP-controlled chamber.

House Speaker Tim Moore said he hopes the two major items keeping the legislature in session right now, the state budget and a required redistricting plan, will be settled by the end of October. He referred questions on the gambling bill, though, to Hall.

Moore, R-Cleveland, an attorney by trade, represents Skyboat Gaming, which is part of a casino project in his district, and he said he has recused himself on the sports gambling bill.

If the House doesn't move on the bill this year, it can do so next year.

"It may just be that we run out of time in the long session to get it done," Hall said.