NC Has Charted New Path In Legalizing Online Sports Betting

Online sports betting in North Carolina is weeks away from launching, and there’s plenty of excitement around the buildup.

The customer experience will be like any other state that offers online sports betting, but North Carolina took a different approach. To gain online market access within the Tar Heel State, operators must tether themselves to a professional sports entity.

Originally, this wasn’t the case. North Carolina was poised to allow market access to online operators without any sort of partnership with these teams.

NCSharp contacted Sara Tait, a partner in Ice Miller’s Government Affairs and Regulatory Law Group. Tait is the former executive director of the Indian Gaming Commission and has a keen eye on the industry.

NCSharp got her thoughts on the approach for North Carolina online sports betting access, college sports wagering and more.

Any legal advantages or disadvantages to North Carolina’s approach to online sports betting?

As mentioned, not every state takes the same approach as North Carolina did when it came to granting online market access.

“This is obviously a legislative decision and it oftentimes depends on the present gaming landscape in the state,” Tait told NCSharp. “For example, if a state does not have a brick and mortar casino industry, the legislature may look to tether sports wagering access to a pro sports team.”

As of now, eight sportsbooks will have access when North Carolina officially launches online sports wagering on March 11. All partner with a professional sports team, league or venue within the state. The only exception is Caesars, which has an existing partnership with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and their casinos.

North Carolina allows residents to wager prop bets on college athletes — why are some against this?

Wagering on college sports is a hot topic, especially regarding what types of wagers are allowed.

The rules vary based on each state. Some, like Virginia, don’t allow wagers on in-state programs. Others do, but they don’t allow any sort of prop bets on those teams. And then there are states where you can wager on both.

North Carolina is one of those states. Residents can wager on their favorite NC college teams and place prop bets on them, too.

Tait’s heard the argument for and against allowing customers to place prop bets on college athletics.

“When discussing bans on prop bets, many lawmakers or policymakers cite concerns associated with harassment of student-athletes and integrity of the sporting events.”

It will be interesting to see how North Carolina handles the potential student-athlete harassment due to sports betting. Ohio took a firm stance, opting to ban sports bettors who have been confirmed to have harassed student-athletes.

Drawing North Carolina sports bettors away from offshore sites

One plus to legalizing sports betting within a state is the industry would become regulated. In this instance, the North Carolina Lottery Commission provides the oversight.

Responsible gaming is a big focus, but another is eliminating the use of offshore, illegal sports betting. It’s difficult, as there are more options for bettors going the illegal route, but it’s incredibly risky. Aside from legal ramifications, security surrounding customer information and funds is shaky at best.

“A regulated market must be able to compete with and provide patrons with reasons to move away from offshore or illegal bookies,” Tait said.

“Effective regulations, competitive wagering offerings and ensuring patrons understand the benefits of a safe, regulated book are all critical. Enforcement actions to shut down illegal gambling operations also need to be a priority. Unfortunately, you still see media and others link to or promote offshore sites, which is disappointing.”

About the Author

Adam Hensley

Adam Hensley's byline has appeared in the Associated Press, Sports Illustrated and sites within the USA Today Network. Hensley graduated from the University of Iowa in 2019 and spent his college career working as an editor and reporter for the Daily Iowan’s sports department.