In November 2023, the North Carolina Lottery Commission set a pivotal deadline for receiving online sports betting operator license applications. Rising to this challenge, seven hopeful operators submitted their applications, eyeing a chance to enter the North Carolina market.
Should these applications receive approval, North Carolina residents could gain access to a host of popular legal sports betting apps, similar to those already operational in other parts of the United States. Although the initial deadline has passed, there remains room for additional operators to join the fray.
Initial Group of Applicants for North Carolina Sports Betting
The deadline set by the Commission for applications was Dec. 27, 2023, marking a significant step towards introducing legal online sports betting in Nobrth Carolina. The seven applicants who successfully met this deadline include:
- ESPN Bet
- Underdog Sports
In addition to these companies, Caesars Sportsbook is poised to be a key player due to its partnership with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, who run two land-based casinos in North Carolina.
While the timeline for the Commission’s review of these applications is unclear, those in North Carolina eager for legal online sports betting, particularly with the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl LVIII approaching, may have to wait. The Commission has a 90-day window to respond to applications, and the law facilitating online gambling becomes effective on Jan. 8. Consequently, a launch prior to Super Bowl LVIII is unlikely, though Governor Roy Cooper is optimistic about a potential launch before the 2024 NCAA basketball tournaments.
The applicants are likely aiming for a March Madness launch, given the significant betting volume the event attracts, presenting a lucrative opportunity for tax revenue generation for the state. Further applications post-deadline could also contribute additional revenue streams for North Carolina.
Expanded Opportunities for Partnerships in North Carolina Sports Betting
Under state regulations, online sportsbook operators in North Carolina must establish partnerships with local venues like racetracks or professional sports organizations. For instance, FanDuel has already partnered with the PGA.
While BetMGM, DraftKings, and Underdog Sports have yet to announce their local partners, there are rumors of potential associations with NASCAR. Other public partnerships include:
- Bet365 with the Charlotte Hornets
- ESPN Bet with the Quail Hollow Club
- Fanatics with the Carolina Hurricanes
Excluding NASCAR, there remain six major North Carolina sports entities without betting partners. These include the Carolina Panthers, Charlotte FC, Charlotte Motor Speedway, North Carolina Courage, North Wilkesboro Speedway, and Sedgefield Country Cblub.
Applications submitted after the Dec. 27, 2023, deadline may miss the initial launch but can still be considered in the ongoing process. The Commission’s focus for now is likely processing the first batch of applications and getting approved operators live before evaluating additional ones.
Anticipated Updates and Steps Ahead
The Sports Betting Advisory Committee of the North Carolina Lottery Commission is scheduled to meet on Jan. 4, followed by the Commission meeting on Jan. 11. These meetings are expected to provide more clarity on the application review process and the next steps.
In addition to application evaluations, the Commission needs to revisit shelved rules regarding sportsbooks and affiliates. Post-approval, the focus will shift to testing systems for compliance and potentially setting a target date for operators to begin accepting bets, which may be discussed in the Jan. 11 meeting.
While any target date remains tentative, it should offer a glimpse into when North Carolinians might expect to legally engage in online sports betting within the state. The seven operators who met the initial deadline will be hopeful of being part of this inaugural group.
With seven potential operators meeting the North Carolina Lottery Commission’s deadline, the state’s online sports betting landscape is poised for significant expansion. These developments indicate a promising future for legal online sports betting in North Carolina, offering residents a variety of betting options and potentially boosting state revenue through partnerships and taxation. The upcoming meetings and regulatory decisions will be crucial in shaping the rollout and success of this new venture in the state’s gaming industry.