On Wednesday, the North Carolina Lottery Commission took three important rulemaking steps on the way to legalizing sports betting by approving:
- a sports betting committee creation;
- an operator application acceptance plan;
- an amendment to the contract of Gaming Labs International.
These steps will lay the groundwork for the rulemaking process to accept, vet, and launch licensees. However, taking this step at the end of September suggests that online sports betting in North Carolina is not coming in early January.
During the Lottery Commission’s meeting, Deputy Executive Director of Gaming Compliance and Sports Betting, Sterl Carpenter, announced a plan to accept sports betting operator applications without using an automated online “enterprise regulation system.”
The committee had previously received applications from four potential companies providing enterprise regulation systems, but they did not recommend any of them for approval. Instead, they will release a new request-for-proposal to find a long-term partner to vet and oversee licensees.
Next steps for online sports betting rulemaking
Deciding that the proposed enterprise systems didn’t offer the long-term functionality required doesn’t mean that sportsbook applications can’t be submitted. Regulatory staff will read and evaluate them manually instead.
Carpenter also announced that rule writing will proceed for online sports betting. If North Carolina follows the six-month trajectory of other states, online sports betting and parimutuel wagering could be available at the end of March or the beginning of April. However, Carpenter told the committee, “We will get sports betting and parimutuel up before the June deadline,” suggesting that he’s not in any rush to launch early.
It’s a slow process, but that’s not necessarily bad. Ensuring online gambling platforms are safe and financially viable is more important than a fast launch. Vetting online sports betting platforms can go wrong in significant ways. During the pandemic, Colorado rushed its online sports betting vetting process and missed a lawsuit that an applicant had disclosed.
Although North Carolinians could miss the chance to bet on the NFL, Super Bowl, and March Madness, sports betting will be live in time for the next complete season. It’s little comfort to hardcore bettors, but it’s better than a hastily written regulatory regime.
NCSharp projects when that launch day finally comes, North Carolina will come out of the gates in a hurry. Our projection for total bet spending in North Carolina’s first year of online sports betting is between $6-$7 billion.