The path to legal mobile betting in North Carolina has taken another twist, as a proposal by the state House would grant more power to pro sports organizations. This could see pro sports teams and leagues getting to decide which sportsbooks are allowed to operate within the Tar Heel State, while the North Carolina State Lottery Commission could only license the operators after this process. Plus with potentially more than 12 sportsbooks being allowed to operate in the state, it’s making for a potentially chaotic start to sports betting in NC.
A recently unveiled state budget proposal is set to drastically alter how mobile sports betting could be governed in North Carolina. It would effectively give pro sports leagues and teams a much greater say in selecting and approving sportsbooks, while the North Carolina State Lottery would lose out.
The $30 billion state budget is hoped to be passed later this week, and it removes the requirement for the North Carolina State Lottery to approve any operator who wishes to launch a sports betting platform in the Tar Heel State. But it doesn’t stop there because the proposal also removes the limit of just 12 sportsbooks who will be allowed to operate within North Carolina.
Mobile sports betting could go live in NC as early as January 8, 2024, but there has been slow progress on the legislation and the latest move adds even more confusion to the equation. It’s worth noting that this is only a proposal that was recently issued in the House, and it is the North Carolina Senate that actually has the power to write its budget.
Prior to the recent proposal, online sportsbooks weren’t legally required to have any form of relationship with a pro sports organization to get a license to operate within North Carolina. However, the updated text now says that any prospective sportsbooks in NC will now need a ‘written designation agreement’ with a sporting organization to gain access to the market.
This could include professional sports teams, major sporting venues, the PGA Tour or even NASCAR. Such organizations could range from massive teams like the Carolina Hurricanes and the Carolina Panthers through to the Charlotte Motor Speedway or even the Quail Hollow Country Club in Charlotte that hosts the PGA Tour. Once this was achieved, then the North Carolina State Lottery would be able to issue a license to the online sportsbook.
While there remain big questions over the budget and licensing process for sports betting in the Tar Heel State, the North Carolina State Lottery Commission has been making moves for its eventual launch. This can be seen in how Gaming Laboratories International was hired by the state to assist in the preparation for the licensing of the sportsbooks as well as helping with everything from rule-making to audit programs and risk limitation. Gaming Laboratories International has previously had success in helping to launch mobile sports betting in Massachusetts, Kentucky and Vermont.
Elsewhere, the industry veteran, Sterl Carpenter, will be on hand to be North Carolina’s executive director of gaming compliance and sports betting. He had previously spent eight years as a regulator at the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, and it will be his job to convert the legal framework of House Bill 347 into a reality for sports bettors in the Tar Heel State.
The bill allows for mobile sports betting in North Carolina, as well as retail sportsbooks across the state, and parimutuel horse racing betting. Sports betting has to go live at some point between January 8 and June 14, 2024, and up to eight professional sports organizations can open retail sportsbooks.
There are currently three retail sportsbooks that allow people to bet on sports in-person in North Carolina. Bettors must be at least 21 years old and they are able to bet on pro sports as well as in-state college-level sports.
The implementation of mobile sports betting into a new state is rarely a simple task, but North Carolina’s legislators are leaving it late to get the regulations in gear for the launch of betting in January 2024.
However, with experienced industry veterans on board, as well as the assistance of Gaming Laboratories International, it’s hoped that the introduction of mobile betting in North Carolina can be as smooth as has been experienced in neighboring states such as Tennessee and Virginia.
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