North Carolina Sports Betting Launch Delayed Beyond January 8

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North Carolina’s journey towards regulated sports betting has hit a snag, with the initial target date of January 8, 2024, now deemed unfeasible.

This week, the North Carolina Lottery Commission, responsible for overseeing the rollout, has publicly acknowledged that the launch will not occur on this date.

The regulator for North Carolina online sports betting is still focusing on several pending tasks, including finalizing the market rules, approving operators, completing necessary testing, and finalizing the sports catalogue.

“Jan. 8 is the first date we can launch sports betting. But that will not, it probably won’t be, the date that betting is authorized, considering everything we still have to do,” said Commission Member Ripley Rand, speaking at Tuesday’s meeting.

It remains unclear exactly when the launch could be, but it will be before June 15, 2024. When Governor Roy Cooper (D) signed sports betting into law in June this year, it codified June 2024 as a deadline for launch.

No Operators Applied as of Yet

Sterl Carpenter, North Carolina’s Deputy Executive Director of Gaming Compliance and Sports Betting, outlined the extensive amount of work still to be done.

That includes the investigation of operator applications, ensuring compliance with state boundaries for wagering, and detailing security and responsible gaming plans.

Potential North Carolina sports betting operators are required to have a “written designation agreement” with specific sports teams, leagues, or facilities in the state.

This adds another layer of complexity and negotiations for operators and the state. No such partnerships have been announced as of yet.

The Commission expects to license eight North Carolina retail sportsbooks and 12 online operations. Two retail venues already exist in the state, at the two North Carolina casinos operated by state tribes.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians operates Harrah’s North Carolina and the Catawba Indian Nation operate the Catawba Two Kings Casino. Both will be allowed to add online sports betting to their gambling repertoire, once the market launches.

Catalogue Introduced and Website Launched

During the meeting, the Commission also revealed it has launched a new website, NCGaming.gov, aimed at educating the public about the sports betting time line, licensing processes, and revenue distribution.

Commissioners also introduced the first draft of its sports betting catalog, a comprehensive document detailing the sporting events, leagues, and markets available for wagering.

This newly published draft catalog includes professional and college sports across the spectrum, including all the usual suspects like NFL and college football betting, PGA golf betting, and others.

Some interesting additions for North Carolina’s bettors include competitive eating, Jai-Alai, professional rodeo events, and lawn bowls.

Some sports that didn’t get the nod in the first draft include Saudi-backed pro golf league LIV Golf and controversial UFC offshoot Power Slap.

One notable exclusion is esports. Retail sportsbooks in Nevada successfully filed a recent petition to open up esports betting in a wider fashion, instead of on an event-by-event basis.

However, for now at least, North Carolina’s regulators have simply not included it all in their first draft catalog.

Effective and Appropriate Rules

The state law stipulates a launch deadline of no later than June 15, 2024, providing a window for the committee to complete all necessary preparations.

The full commission is expected to approve the initial set of rules and the sports betting catalogue soon.

“The commission remains committed to ensuring that sports betting gets up and running in an effective and appropriate fashion as soon as possible, and at this time is on track to achieve that ahead of the June 15 deadline identified in the law,” sad North Carolina Lottery’s director of communications, Van Denton, in a statement.

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