The North Carolina Lottery Commission has posted a job listing for a director of licensing of sports betting and pari-mutuel wagering.
The Commission tasked with launching the state’s online sports betting industry as early as Jan. 8, 2024, has moved very deliberately in the months since Gov. Roy Cooper signed North Carolina’s sports betting bill into law.
With competing lottery interests occupying its time as well, the NCLC has thrown the potential of a 2024 NFL Super Bowl sports betting launch into doubt and left many people wondering if online sports betting in North Carolina will go live in time for March Madness.
No sense of urgency from NC Lottery Commission
On June 16, two days after the passage of House Bill 347, the state’s online sports betting bill, the North Carolina Lottery published a sports betting page on its website. The page provided an overview of the new industry and a hub for posting developments and listing regulatory meetings.
Since then, the only change to the page has been the addition of a box where would-be operators can register for upcoming information on the licensing process.
Then on July 28, the NCLC hired Sterl Carpenter, a seasoned gaming regulator formerly of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, as sports betting director. Carpenter’s hire put someone at the helm of the regulatory ship, but since then there has been no movement on the regulatory front–no meetings posted and the application process has remained closed.
Today’s posting for a director of licensing indicates that, once the position is filled, we may see the application window for operators open.
However, the posting states,
We’re looking for an experienced senior leader to develop, implement, and manage a licensing framework and program for sports betting and any future gaming approved by the General Assembly or Commission. This role will be responsible for leading the agency’s licensing efforts.
Considering that the responsibilities of this person include developing a licensing framework, it’s fair to question why this job was not posted sooner.
With a closing date on the job listing of Sept. 15, it seems likely that the NCLC is still a month or more away from developing a licensing framework and accepting their first applications.
If that’s the case, the likelihood that online sports betting will be ready to launch by Jan. 8, the opening of the launch window, seems increasingly unlikely.
Are digital lottery games taking precedence over a sports betting launch?
Two weeks ago, the NC Education Lottery approved the Nov. 15 launch of digital scratch-off games.
The pending launch of new ilottery games could create a conflict for the same lottery commissioners charged with regulating sports betting.
While the NC Lottery has not said as much, Van Denton, communications director, has indicated that the Commission is working hard to shore up both its lottery and sports betting offerings.
Digital scratch-off games, according to the Commission’s data, could bring in $400 million in revenue in the first five years of play. That is more than what sports betting is projected to bring in during the same time frame.
The challenge of running both the state’s lottery and sports betting industry with fidelity is one to monitor closely. Especially because the state is also considering the expansion of commercial casinos, which current draft legislation would hand over to the NCLC to regulate as well.
Would the state do better to create a state gaming commission to share the burden? This is one of the key storylines NCSharp is following in the lead up to the launch of North Carolina online sports betting.