Online sportsbooks that want a chance to go live at the earliest possible date for online North Carolina sports betting have one week left to meet submit their sports betting operator applications.
The commission opened its licensing portal for operators at the beginning of the month and advised sportsbooks to provide complete submissions as soon as possible with an eye to the “recommended deadline” of Dec. 27, 2023. In addition, all applicants must form a written designation agreement with a sports entity in NC before applying for a North Carolina online sports betting operator license.
Operators in the running so far
As of Dec. 13, 14 sports operators had requested sports betting applications. However, the state will only grant 11 commercial licenses and two more licenses to the two tribes operating casinos in the state. Four sports betting companies have already formed partnerships with an NC pro sports entity:
- Bet 365 (Charlotte Hornets)
- ESPN Bet (Quail Hollow Club)
- Fanatics (Carolina Hurricanes)
- FanDuel (PGA Tour)
This leaves the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, the state’s wealthiest sports team with a $4.1 billion valuation, still on the market for an NC sports betting partner.
Other major players like market leader DraftKings, BetMGM and Caesars have yet to provide details on partnership plans though we should learn this information very soon if they hope to launch at the earliest possible date.
Caesars already has a presence in the state as the retail sportsbook operator for the two Harrah’s Casinos that the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians owns, and it will likely secure one of the state’s two tribal permits through them.
BetMGM extended its partnership with the NHL, ensuring its promos will be shown during Hurricanes broadcasts. The operator also explicitly stated earlier this month that North Carolina is its next target for online sports betting expansion.
DraftKings is the official sports betting partner of several pro sports teams in the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB.
What happens during the application process for sportsbook operators?
When Sterl Carpenter, the NCLC’s deputy director of sports betting, revealed the details of the sports betting application in late November, he made it clear that operators should submit as soon as possible.
“Our timeline for this initial application and licensing process depends greatly on the applicant submitting timely and complete application documents promptly, beginning their background checks process with our vendor and demonstrating compliance with our sports wagering rules,” he said. “I cannot stress this enough.”
The application fee for sports wagering operators is $1 million. After a sportsbook requests a license application from NCgaming.gov, they will receive a personalized link to securely submit the required forms. The NCLC will begin a background check and provide applicants with status updates throughout the application process. The NCLC prohibits operators from attempting to contact commissioners about submissions during or before the application process.
Any changes to application information must be disclosed immediately to the NCLC. All operators must be in good standing in jurisdictions where they operate for at least a year. The estimated window for approval of an application is 60 days.
While Dec. 27 is the recommended cut-off date for applications, the NCLC will process submissions after that date. However, the agency warns that “any application received after Dec. 27, 2023, may not make it through the Commission’s investigation and licensing process prior to the authorization of sports wagering in NC.”
Once an application receives approval, sportsbooks must submit documentation on their internal controls standards detailing how the operators will adhere to NC and other gaming laws. Internal controls ensure sportsbook operations’ security and financial integrity, protecting consumers and limiting fraud.
While the NCLC has not announced when sports betting will go live in the state, it is clear that wagering on the 2024 Super Bowl won’t be possible. However, a launch in time for March Madness is possible if the agency maintains an efficient and expedited rulemaking and license application approval process.
At the latest, per state law, online and expanded retail sports betting will go live on June 15, 2024.