Do you have strong opinions about how newly legalized expanded retail and online sports betting should be regulated? Let the North Carolina Lottery Commission hear your thoughts.
While the NCLC has the responsibility of enacting the regulations for online sports betting and pari-mutuel wagering, per state laws, its members must do so in a transparent process for the public good.
Gathering public comment when drafting regulations for online sports betting is a common practice of state gaming control bodies. State sunshine laws mandate transparency and disclosure as rule makers draft gambling rules.
Understanding North Carolina’s public comment policies
On the federal level, the tradition of notifying the public and soliciting comments for new laws dates back to the 1946 Administrative Procedure Act. In North Carolina, public records laws predate the federal mandate. Established in 1935, the North Carolina Public Records Law stipulates that public records and information of state agencies “are the property of the people.”
“Therefore, it is the policy of this State that the people may obtain copies of their public records and public information free or at minimal cost unless otherwise specifically provided by law.”
The state followed up with the North Carolina Open Meetings Law, enacted in 1979, which mandates that “each official meeting of a public body shall be open to the public, and any person is entitled to attend such a meeting.”
The open meeting law has undergone several updates since then and now includes a section that addresses remote gatherings. Per the law, citizens must be provided with a method to witness virtual meetings.
In addition, during meetings, any text messages or other correspondence of members that pertain to commission business are also subject to the open records law. So, if you send a text message or email to a commissioner that contains comments or questions about the meeting business, that message becomes part of the public record.
Participating in the NCLC’s upcoming public comment period
The current NCLC public comment period allows citizens to provide feedback on a preliminary draft for sports betting and pari-mutuel wagering rulemaking. When the NCLC’s sports betting committee met on Oct. 17, it announced a 15-day deadline for residents to submit comments online.
Participating in person
If you want to speak at the next public comment session, fill out the NCLC’s “Public Hearing Registration Request” form online. The form asks for your name, email address and organization. The hearing takes place at North Carolina State Lottery Commission headquarters: 2728 Capital Blvd., Suite 144, Raleigh, NC 27604.
All visitors will be subject to security protocols. Commissioners will call registrants in the order they registered. However, registering does not guarantee a chance to speak. All oral comments will be limited to three minutes. You must identify yourself and the organization during your presentation.
The hearing will be transcribed and made available on the commission’s website.
Submitting your feedback online
For people interested in sharing their feedback in a more private setting, public comments may be submitted in writing.
The NCLC’s “Public Comment Submission for Proposed Rulemaking” form also asks for your name, email and organization.
On the form, you must indicate clearly which proposed chapter of the rules you want to provide a comment. The choices are Chapter 1 General Wagering, and Chapter 2 Sports Wagering.
Chapter 1 provides an overview of the NCLC’s duties as well as the licensing, compliance and renewal processes for operators. Chapter 2 focuses on regulations for sports betting companies, suppliers and service providers.
The form asks for three more pieces of clarification:
- The rule language related to the comment (if applicable): this is the direct language of the rule on which you will provide a comment.
- The public comment on the rule: this is your commentary on the need to alter the direct language of the rule or clarify its intent.
- Suggested change to the rule (if applicable): In cases of a need for re-wording, this is where you would suggest those changes.
NCLC actions after the public comment period
After receiving public comments, the NCLC will review the feedback. Soon after, on Nov. 14, the commission will provide a presentation that gives an update on the rulemaking process that incorporates citizen feedback. The earliest date that any rules approved by NCLC will take effect is Jan. 8, 2024.
Further batches of rules and regulations will follow.
The NCLC is working against a June 14, 2024 deadline to launch online sports betting officially and expand retail sports betting.