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Political Notebook: Study of gaming commission, sports betting approved

In a step toward the creation of a state gaming commission, Rep. Harry Warren, R-76, got a win last Wednesday when Gov. Roy Cooper signed his bill to approve a study of the issue into law.

Senate Bill 574 requires the North Carolina State Lottery Commission to study the feasibility of authorizing and regulating sports betting, on-site betting at horse steeplechases and the creation of a commission to provide gaming oversight.

The bill originally filed in April by Warren was to establish the North Carolina Gaming Commission, but the House bill did not make it out of that chamber. Warren rewrote a Senate bill filed by Sen. Jim Davis, R-50, called Modify Physical Therapy Definition. He swapped a bill with Davis for the senator to sponsor the Swain County Settlement Trust Fund.

The law signed by the governor would delay formation of a gaming commission, but the bill to authorize a study was well received. It passed in the Senate 44-1 and in the House, 97-12.

Warren says he has been pushing for the formation of a gaming commission for five years and hoped a commission would offer stability by putting gambling under one roof and provide a better way to regulate it.

Warren is a member of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on the North Carolina State Lottery.

Sen. Carl Ford, R-33, was the lone Senate member to vote against the study of a gaming commission.

Ford said he doesn’t believe in gambling in “any way, sense or form.” He said gambling targets poor people.

He said he voted against the bill because he doesn’t want the state to crack open the door to gambling a little and for it to be blown open. He says he doesn’t know where gambling legislation will stop and doesn’t want North Carolina to be the next New Jersey or Nevada.

“I admire Carl for standing up for his convictions,” Warren said of Ford’s no vote.

Rep. Larry Pittman, R-83, also voted against the bill, saying he opposes all gambling and any provision for it.

Rep. Julia Howard, R-77, voted in favor of the study.

The law would require the Lottery Commission to examine whether additional resources are needed to help those with gambling addictions.

The law says the Lottery Commission should contract with an independent third party for research and report to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on the State Lottery by April 15.

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