The North Carolina Lottery Commission (NCLC), the agency responsible for creating and approving sports betting regulations and licensing in North Carolina, has taken two steps towards the launch of online sports betting.
The state has from Jan. 8, 2024, to June 14, 2024 to launch the new industry, and a lot of work still needs to be done.
The NCLC recently announced it added the second of two new associate attorneys to its legal staff. The Commission has also made subtle but significant changes to the wording on the NC Education Lottery Sports Betting webpage indicating that a North Carolina online sports betting launch may not be realistic in January.
New lawyer will help draft sports betting licensing framework
One of the new counsel’s tasks is to help develop “the new rules and regulations required to begin licensing of sports betting operators, providers, and suppliers and for the licensing of operators for parimutuel wagering on horse racing.”
Drafting of the rules is necessary for issuing licenses to North Carolina sports betting operators and service providers, and this new hire’s job will partly be to ensure the legal documents are structured properly.
The announcement of the legal hiring comes after the NC Education Lottery secured the services of the consultancy firm Gaming Laboratories International last month.
A veteran in the field, New Jersey-based GLI has helped many states launch commercial sports betting in their jurisdictions, including Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Vermont just this year.
North Carolina regulators expect GLI to assist them in rule-making, licensing, development of an audit program, and risk control.
To this end, the NC Education Lottery has also posted a job listing for a licensing director of sports betting. This person’s role will be to design the larger licensing framework operators and service providers will use.
All parties included, these developments signal that online sports betting operators in North Carolina could see the application process for sports betting licensure begin in one to two months.
NC online sports betting launch could be closer to June than January
Once Governor Roy Cooper signed House Bill 347 into law in June, the race was on to get North Carolina online sports betting off the ground.
One of the first things the NC Education Lottery did was set up a sports betting informational page on its website.
The purpose of the page at first was to provide information and updates on the launch of sports betting and horse-race wagering in the Tar Heel state.
Recently, the page has included a banner at top reading,
“The North Carolina Lottery Commission is moving forward with the substantial efforts required to responsibly license and regulate sports betting, and pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing, and horse racing itself. The new Sports Wagering and Horse Racing Wagering law gives the commission up to a year, June 14, 2024, to prepare for wagering. The commission’s goal is to make sure sports gaming gets up and running in an effective and appropriate fashion as soon as possible.”
Judging by the reference to the June 14 launch deadline and the emphasis on the substantial work required to get there, it seems the lottery has moved away from a target launch near the January opening of the launch window and set their sights on a spring or summer 2024 launch.
When the state finally launches, NCSharp projects that North Carolina could generate $6-$7 billion in total bets in its first year.