Who Is Sterl Carpenter, North Carolina’s New Sports Betting Director?

Massachusetts’ loss is North Carolina’s gain.

Last month, the North Carolina Lottery Commission tapped Sterl Carpenter as its deputy executive director of gaming compliance and sports betting.

With that hire, the NCLC added a man with experience in many aspects of sports wagering management and regulation ahead of the launch of legal online sports betting in North Carolina in 2024.

Carpenter’s experience in the gaming industry

Carpenter spent more than two decades working for Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut.

He started his career as a table dealer and matriculated to the positions of pit boss and casino shifts assistant manager. In 2015, he was hired by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, where he spent nearly nine years in various roles as a regulator in the gaming industry.

Most recently, he was sports wagering operations manager for the MGC. In that role, Carpenter frequently reported to the commission on the activity of sports wagering operators. That position requires communication as a liaison between the regulatory body and the sportsbooks – both retail books located in casinos and mobile operators.

Carpenter shepherded Massachusetts through an online sports betting launch

Massachusetts debuted online sports betting in March, and in his role, Carpenter helped shepherd the industry through a successful launch. His responsibilities included:

  • regulatory compliance;
  • managing regulatory requests from sports betting operators;
  • auditing; and
  • customer service for the MGC.

“Carpenter has experience in all aspects of regulations and licensing as well as compliance. We’re pleased to have someone with Carpenter’s experience and expertise leading this new gaming program in our state,” Mark Michalko, executive director of the North Carolina Education Lottery, said last month when the hire was announced.

As the NCLC has no prior experience regulating legal gaming in North Carolina beyond the lottery, Carpenter is being asked to lead a division to set the guidelines, recommend regulatory language and facilitate a licensing process from scratch. His accomplishments in Massachusetts should serve him well, according to former colleagues.

“[The fact that] you caught the eye of another state [makes] all of us really proud in Massachusetts,” MGC Chair Cathy Judd-Stein said in a meeting of the MGC on July 29.

“[Sterl’s] knowledge of the casino world was invaluable to me in helping me become a better commissioner,” MGC Commissioner Bradford Hill said.

The latter comment may come in handy sooner than later as lawmakers debate the inclusion of commercial casinos, regulated by the NCLC, in the state’s budget bill.

Comparing North Carolina and Massachusetts sports betting law

Most of the North Carolina sports betting legal framework will be familiar to Carpenter.

As is the case in Massachusetts, professional and college sports are legal to wager on in North Carolina. Responsible gaming and restrictions on advertising will be a central part of sports betting in this state, and Carpenter is well-versed in those issues.

Before his work with the MGC, Carpenter did not have experience with the sports regulatory business. Still, he brings invaluable knowledge having been through the implementation of a sports betting market in a state also situated on the Atlantic coast with passionate sports fans and consumers clamoring for legal wagering via mobile applications.

With Carpenter, Massachusetts has earned a reputation as a methodical and thorough regulatory body regarding sports betting. The MGC, with Carpenter as a contributor from his position as sports wagering operations manager, has shown a willingness to regulate the industry with careful oversight.

Carpenter is known for being modest, thoughtful and fair. He advocated for a waiver in Massachusetts that gave online sportsbooks more time to comply with self-exclusion rules. He also showed a willingness to revise or clarify regulatory language in the months leading up to and following the launch of betting in that state.

Tackling North Carolina sports betting regulations

North Carolina gaming law will tax gross revenue from sportsbooks at 18%, slightly above the national average, with much of that money going to fund local, regional, and statewide athletics programs.

Carpenter will be charged with leading a division that regulates not just online sports betting but potential retail sportsbooks in or near sporting venues, which is allowed under the new law. In addition, the bill signed by Gov. Roy Cooper permits horse racing betting, such as a thoroughbred racing industry, in the state.

Other unique issues Carpenter and his sports betting division will need to tackle include regulations on sportsbook advertising, use of credit cards to load money into a sportsbook account and how self-exclusion and self-imposed spending limits will be implemented in a mobile sports betting app in North Carolina.

On June 14, Cooper signed legislation into law legalizing online sports betting and horse race betting. The law mandates that a sports betting market be launched by Jan. 8, 2024, but no later than June 14, 2024.

Image Credit: North Carolina Education Lottery

About the Author

Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes writes about sports betting, sports media, and sports betting legislative matters. He's the author of three books, and previously reported for Major League Baseball, as well as the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.