Legalized sports gambling could be coming to North Carolina sooner than you think.

One reason is simple, millions in new revenue for the state government.

According to State Rep. Jon Hardister, who is House majority whip and is involved in the preliminary discussions, $50 million is the current estimate of what taxes and licensing fees on legalized sports betting could bring to the state’s coffers the first year.

The US Supreme Court struck down the federal ban on sports betting last year opening the door for states to legalize gambling on sports and a number of states have already done so.

One of the big backers of legalized sports gambling in the state is Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper. Hardister said he was meeting with Tepper in March to discuss the issue.

Tepper is far from alone as a professional team owner in supporting legalized sports gambling. One study found that the NFL’s revenue could increase by $2.3 billion with the legalization of sports betting nationwide.

With the federal ban no longer in effect and with the state already having a state sponsored lottery, Hardister said it made sense to go ahead and move into the sports gambling arena.

Hardister said, “This is something that we cannot ignore. Other states are taking steps to legalize and regulate sports betting, and we need to do the same.  We should allow people to engage in these activities and make personal choices within a regulated system.  Doing this will yield a considerable amount of revenue for the state.”

He said as long as it was regulated and taxed, he didn’t have a problem with legalized sports gambling and didn’t see it as a particularly tough sell in the state House.

Hardister said that the discussions are currently in the initial stages but the proponents seemed to be in favor of both online and retail sports gambling.  If that is the direction the state legislature goes, there would be brick and mortar locations where people could go and place their bets on sporting events, as well as being able to place a bet online.

There will certainly be opposition, but considering that it will be a lucrative source of new revenue, it’s likely to gain support from both parties.  In fact the legislature could end up having a bigger debate over how to spend the money than whether to legalize sports gambling or not.