9 Investigates

Channel 9 looks into new push to legalize sports betting in Carolinas

Studies have shown that Americans spend billions of dollars every year on illegal sports betting, including right here in Charlotte.

A recent Supreme Court ruling set in motion a seismic shift in the gambling world, pushing to legalize sports betting in the Carolinas.

This ruling is said to potentially boost dollars for teachers and highway projects.

Right now, it’s illegal in Charlotte to place a bet on the Hornets, Panthers or any other sports team while in the Carolinas.

[RELATED: Supreme Court makes sports betting a possibility nationwide]

Andrew, a husband and father who said he loves to watch sports on television, told Channel 9 he was very familiar with the world of illegal sports betting and the people placing the bets.

Andrew, which is not his real name, asked us to alter his voice and not show his face in part because he knows a lot of sports bookies in the area.

“I've definitely heard of guys making $100 - $150K a year just in sports betting. Illegal sports betting but they're making some money,” said Andrew. “It's a lot of business guys. There’s doctors. There's lawyers. That all are just wanting to participate. Make some bets. Throw around a little money. Maybe make a profit.”

Andrew said there are roughly a dozen major off-shore websites that funnel illegal sports bets.

Officials said the businesses are illegal and the money that is flying around is not being taxed.

Studies show that Americans spend an estimated $400 billion per year in illegal sports betting.

“I lean towards legalizing it,” said Andrew. Which is a possibility said to happen in the Carolinas sooner than you think.

Lawmakers said there are a lot of potential tax dollars that could go toward teacher salaries if it were legal.

Just last year the Supreme Court gave each state the option to legalize sports betting.

The Legal Sports Report website lists the states that have legalized sports betting and those that have sports betting legalization bills currently under consideration.

South Carolina House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford told Channel 9 regulating sports betting will protect consumers and bring in millions of much-needed tax dollars for state education and infrastructure projects.

“Why not make it legal in our state?” said Rutherford. “We need to spend more money on our schools, but where do you get that money from on a recurring basis? And one of the things we can look at is sports betting.”

Rutherford said he is co-sponsoring a bill in the South Carolina legislature but there remains strong opposition in the state based on moral grounds.

National studies show one in four people do not want sports betting to be legalized, and morality is a big reason why.

“If you don't want to do it, then don't. Nobody's forcing anybody to bet on sports,” said Rutherford.

Conservative leaders of the North Carolina legislature have indicated a willingness to “study” legalized sports betting, and at least some fans said they are betting that change is coming.

“I think that it is just a matter of time,” said Andrew.

Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper has indicated his support for legalized sports betting and suggested the concept could even be incorporated in the new Panthers Stadium.

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