North Carolina online sports betting law does not allow bettors to access commercial online sportsbooks while on North Carolina tribal lands.
The law reads, “An interactive sports wagering operator shall not, by virtue of such licensure, be authorized to accept any sports wager if the registered player placing the sports wager is physically present on Indian lands when the sports wager is initiated and received.”
Enforcing this rule falls on geolocation services to establish NC tribal gaming boundaries and filter out unauthorized bets. For people living near geofenced boundaries, interference can sometimes occur where authorized players are mistakenly blocked from placing bets. This can be due to their proximity to borders or, in rare cases, bodies of water.
NCSharp reached out to GeoComply, a leading geo-security service in the gaming sector, for comment on how it plans to deal with geofencing those areas in North Carolina that border tribal lands.
NC tribal boundaries present few potential areas of interference
Fortunately for North Carolina, the two tribes with gaming compacts–the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) and the Catawba Indian Nation–border remote regions with few areas of interference. The EBCI operates two casinos in the western portion of the state, Harrah’s Cherokee Casino in Cherokee and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River in Murphy. The Catawba owns and operates the Catawba Two Kings Casino in Kings Mountain.
Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River is undergoing a major expansion that will see it become the largest casino in the state. The Catawba Two Kings Casino, a temporary tent casino, has plans for a permanent casino, which have run into extended delays in the last year.
Taking the EBCI as an example, The tribal boundary for the EBCI runs along the western borders of Haywood and Transylvania counties. This area sits on the skirt of the Blue Ridge Mountains with few areas at risk of geofencing interference. However, two such places include the western shores of Lake Toxaway in Transylvania County and the stretch of Highway 74 between Hazelwood and Balsam in Harwood County.
Lake Toxaway’s proximity to the western border of Transylvania County and the natural interference that bodies of water create means that people on the western shores using a PC or Mac (more on this in the next section) to access a commercial sportsbook could encounter interference.
Similarly, the stretch of Highway 74 on the western edge of Harwood County includes communities that could also receive interference due to their proximity to the border.
When asked whether these border areas outside of tribal lands will face interference or accidental geo-restrictions, Lindsay Slader, senior vice president of compliance for GeoComply, alluded to the existing partnership between GeoComply and the NC Education Lottery.
“We are well positioned in North Carolina to create a seamless experience for users,” said Slader, “because our technology is already being deployed in the state to support iLottery, which is currently restricted from tribal lands. Our sophisticated geolocation technology, coupled with our other proprietary solutions and data will help maximize play near any boundary that is established for sports wagering.”
NC iLottery geofencing procedures can aid sports bettors
Despite GeoComply’s ability to pinpoint locations, iLottery players in North Carolina have been wrongly geofenced out of their lottery apps. This 2019 post from the NC Education Lottery website features 28 comments on iLottery features, five of which address players being restricted from playing due to geolocation settings.
The NC Lottery released an FAQ on its Online Lottery page addressing fixes to geolocation problems, including allowing a laptop to access WiFi/GPS data sources so it geolocates that way and not through the computer’s IP address. The reason for doing this is that IP addresses usually have a wider radius than a GPS signal. When situated near a border, these radiuses can breach the border and cause a player to be geofenced out of the app in question.
North Carolina sports betting apps that integrate GeoComply software will likely not be affected by these interferences, assuming a player uses a mobile device with geolocation services enabled. It’s usually laptops and desktops relying on an IP address to geolocate that will run into problems.
To be safe, if you live just outside North Carolina tribal lands and you’re betting from a PC or Mac, allow WiFi/GPS data sources to pinpoint your location. And, for what it’s worth, do not use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Most sports betting apps will block you from accessing them immediately if they recognize a VPN. Some may block you indefinitely.
Image Credit: Ben Gray / AP Images