If North Carolina shut down the sports betting application portal today, at least three sports betting operators who’ve requested applications won’t make it to launch.
Three more sports betting operators have requested applications from the NC Lottery Commission in the last week, bringing the total number of requested applications to 14.
Sterl Carpenter, deputy director of sports betting for the NCLC, delivered the updated status of sports betting application requests at the NCLC meeting on Wednesday.
Along with 14 operators, 10 service providers and 34 suppliers have also requested applications–58 sports betting applicants in all.
Carpenter did not give an update on a sports betting launch date, which we know will not come until after the 2024 Super Bowl on Feb. 11, and the next waypoint on the trek to launching North Carolina online sports betting is Dec. 27. That is the “Recommended Submission Date” for all sports betting applicants who wish to go live in the state as soon as sports betting launches.
Already more applicants than sports betting licenses in North Carolina
The state has set up the licensing process so that all operators must partner with a North Carolina pro sports entity, of which there are currently 11, including:
– Five pro sports teams.
– Two racetracks.
– Two golf courses.
– The PGA.
The law allows future pro sports teams–an MLB team in Raleigh, say–to partner with sportsbooks, increasing the number of operators, but for now when online sports betting launches in 2024, 11 licenses will be on the table. If an operator has not secured the prerequisite sports betting partnership, it will be left on the outside until a future license opens up or an operator bows out of the state.
We can already project three of those operators based on the announced sports betting partnerships.
Expect top national sportsbooks at North Carolina sports betting launch
Along with the three sportsbooks already partnered with pro sports entities, we expect other top brands like DraftKings, BetMGM, Caesars and Fanatics to be there when sports betting goes live.
DraftKings and BetMGM have clarified their interests in launching sports betting in North Carolina. Caesars already has a foothold in the state via the two tribal Harrah’s casinos in the western part of the state. Fanatics, which has invested heavily in sports betting launches in the last year and is live in 11 states, will also likely be prepared to launch at the go-live date or soon after.
That leaves four more licenses for smaller books, like the auto racing-focused Tipico, some of which may be available later than the earliest possible launch date.
A launch date is coming soon
Regulators have intimated that a launch date is forthcoming, and with the next deadline being the Dec. 27 application submission date, we can expect a launch date to follow soon after.
The NCLC has 60 days from the date an application is submitted to vet and approve or reject a given applicant. This puts regulators into late February or early March to finalize a sportsbook’s internal controls and give final launch approval.
Where does that put a potential launch date?
NCSharp thinks that if operators meet or come in before the Dec. 27 application deadline, a March Madness 2024 launch of online sports betting is still on the table.