A month after the first meeting of its sports betting committee, the NC Lottery Commission approved the first set of rules for online sports betting. The earliest that the rules can take effect is Jan. 8, 2024.
Commissioners reviewed a list of changes and additions to the draft of the rules, referred to as Rulemaking One, based on public comments and suggestions from commission members and staff.
The rulemaking period will continue for at least two or three more rounds of similar public comments and amendments in the lead-up to the launch of online sports betting in North Carolina in the first half of 2024.
One month of NC sports betting rule-making in the books
The initial public draft of the “North Carolina State Lottery Commission Rules Manual For Sports Wagering and Pari-Mutuel Wagering” included 48 proposed rules.
Over the past several weeks, the commission held a public comment period on Rulemaking One, clarified definitions, corrected typographical errors and edited references to other state statutes. The most significant changes included clarifying the language referring to the written designation agreements that operators must obtain from a pro sports team or sports entity before submitting a license application. The committee denied a request to delete or narrow the scope of the written designation provision.
In addition, the committee removed references to fantasy sports operators while it monitors the regulatory enforcement, and in some cases, bans of prop-style fantasy contests in other states.
The NCLC approved Rulemaking unanimously. However, while the commission had a quorum to take a vote, its chair, Ripley Rand, who also sits on the sports betting committee, was not in attendance.
Sterl Carpenter, deputy director of sports betting, reiterated during Thursday’s meeting that sports betting is not legal yet. He also said that currently, the commission is not accepting petitions for new events or wagers to be included in the catalog. Catalog petitions will be accepted at some point after the sports betting rules are in effect.
Betting options for esports leagues in limbo
During the Nov. 16 meeting, commissioners also reviewed the proposed sports wagering catalog which includes the sports and bet types that will be legal in the state once sports wagering goes live. The catalog includes over 40 sports and 11 bet types. It is not a static document, and the commission outlined the process for adding an event or wager to the catalog.
However, while betting on esports will be legal, the activity is not currently in the catalog. Carpenter explained the reasoning: “Currently at this time we are waiting for operators to present their petition for which leagues they wish to offer in this type of event.”
Major players in the U.S. online sports betting industry that offer esports and are expected to enter the NC market include FanDuel, DraftKings and Caesars. However, esports betting revolves around big competitions. Consequently, it isn’t available as often as other activities such as soccer or baseball.
Rulemaking two and next steps
Even before the NC Lottery finished its approval process for Rulemaking One, the second batch of regulations was already public and undergoing scrutiny. The NCLC published the Rulemaking Two draft on Nov. 7. Public comments will be accepted through Nov. 27 and a public hearing is scheduled for Nov. 20. The NCLC will meet publicly to discuss Rulemaking Two on Dec. 6.