Student-Athlete Protection A Must In NC, Says One Expert

North Carolina is at least four months away from launching its online sports betting industry, and there’s plenty to keep in mind ahead of the launch.

NCSharp spoke with Jed M. Nosal, who is a partner in the Womble Bond Dickinson law firm’s Business Litigation Practice Group. Nosal is based out of Boston, Massachusetts, where he’s an industry expert when it comes to regulatory oversight, investigations, compliance and other related items.

Massachusetts is a leader when it comes to responsible gambling, specifically within the sports sector.

Nosal offered his two cents on North Carolina sports betting now that it a launch is on the horizon.

Two things to keep in mind when states launch

Nosal said there are a couple of guiding principles that states must keep in mind when launching their markets.

“First, the regulators need to be transparent about what the schedule will be and do their best to figure out what is a realistic timeline.

The second most important, and maybe more important, is you have a universal start date that allows all the companies to compete and begin at a certain time as long as they meet the conditions required in the regulatory environment.”

Right now, the earliest sports betting could launch in North Carolina is Jan. 8, 2024. That’s four months from now. The latest it can launch would be June 14, 2024.

It’s a wide window, and one that certainly needs to be solidified before moving forward.

Student-athlete protection in North Carolina will be a must

As more states legalize sports wagering, more incidents of angry bettors harassing student-athletes arise. For instance, one California man was sentenced to 36 months in prison after being accused of threatening both professional and student-athletes on Twitter.

“That’s the behavior that you cannot have and you don’t want to have as part of your marketplace,” Nosal said. “To be frank, if you’re not going to protect student-athletes from that type of abusive behavior, then why have a regulated market at all?”

Ohio is one state that took a major step in protecting student-athletes. The Ohio Casino Control Commision can ban bettors from wagering on sports if they are found to threaten student-athletes or anyone associated with an event.

We’ll know more about what North Carolina will do (or not do) to protect student-athletes once a launch date is solidified and regulations come to fruition.

In the mean time, it’s something to keep an eye on, regardless of how far out the launch is.

“It’s an important policy issue for not only gaming regulators,” says Nosal, “but some of the behavior rises to the level that warrants law enforcement’s involvement.”

No issues with lotteries overseeing sports betting

Not all lotteries oversee sports betting, but that will be the case in North Carolina whenever the industry launches.

Nosal deemed the concept a “state-by-state question.”

For instance, in Massachusetts, online sports betting falls under the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, which was already in place over its gambling industry. Massachusetts has its own lottery, but it does not monitor sports betting.

The North Carolina Lottery Commission, with the help of a sports betting director, will regulate sports betting. It will also oversee online lottery games, which appear to be one of the next dominos to fall. Should the state expand commercial casinos, the NCLC could oversee them as well.

It’s a lot for one entity to cover, but not impossible by any means.

“I think it’s more of a policy decision,” said Nosal. “And I think one where any of the agencies that are chosen will be able to develop the necessary expertise, which is relatively new for everybody anyway. It’s a matter of providing the right resources, as well. And then looking at what’s going to be most efficient for each state to oversee these various enterprises.”

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.