North Carolina governor Roy Cooper has signed a bill allowing sports and horse racing wagering at two tribal casinos into law.
The bill — Senate Bill 154 of the 2019 legislative session — was introduced by Republican state senator Jim Davis.
According to the text of the bill, it will allow for, “the placing of wagers on the outcome of professional and collegiate sports contests” on “Indian lands within the State lawfully permitted to conduct Class III gaming activities.”
A wager must be initiated and received on the grounds of an eligible casino, meaning no off-premises mobile wagering will be permitted.
The bill passed by a 43-7 margin in the Senate but stalled at the House committee stage from April to July. However, the state’s House legislative session was extended beyond its typical end date of 1 July, which gave the bill time to pass by a 90-27 margin.
The two casinos which will be allowed to take sports bets are both operated by Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
Founded in 1997 after then-governor Jim Hunt signed tribal gambling legislation, the 140,000 square-foot Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort is the tribe’s first and largest casino. A sister site, Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel opened in 2015 and contains 60,000 square feet of gaming space.
Both Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians casinos are located in the Appalachian mountains, 164 and 222 miles from the nearest major city of Charlotte respectively, and both more than 250 miles from the Raleigh-Durham metropolitan area.
The profits from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ casinos are shared equally among the tribe’s 16,000 members. In 2016, the payments came to roughly $12,000.
Meanwhile Senate bill 574, to establish the North Carolina Gaming Commission, has been passed by both the House and Senate, and is currently at a conference committee stage, due to two amendments made by the lower chamber.
Should it pass into law, one of the Gaming Commission’s first duties would be to conduct a feasibility study on an expanded roll-out of wagering across the state.