North Carolina Sports Betting’s Initial Seven Applicants Submit Notices

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As North Carolina prepares to roll out sports betting in the first half of 2024, seven operators have now started their application process.

The North Carolina State Lottery Commission recently released the names of the initial market applicants who submitted before the December 27 deadline.

The lineup includes established industry giants like DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, and bet365, alongside newer contenders Fanatics Betting and Gaming, Penn Sports Interactive’s ESPN BET, and Underdog Sports.

Each operator is required to partner with a local sports franchise, arena, PGA Tour course, or NASCAR track to submit their applications, which is a unique arrangement among U.S. sports betting markets.

Seven Applicants Ready

Over the last weeks of 2023, four operators announced their partnerships. FanDuel has partnered with the PGA Tour, Fanatics with the Carolina Hurricanes, ESPN BET with the Quail Hollow Club, and bet365 with the Charlotte Hornets.

Three more — DraftKings, BetMGM, and Underdog Sports — are understood to have applied before the regulator’s initial application round deadline of December 27. However, their sports partners have not yet been revealed.

These seven initial applicants, if awarded licenses, will be poised to start operating immediately on North Carolina sports betting‘s unannounced launch date.

More applicant and sports franchise partnerships are possible, with the commission continuing to accept applications into 2024.

However, latecomers won’t share the same advantage, missing the opportunity to launch on the first day.

Notably, Underdog Sports Wagering emerges as an intriguing applicant. The mostly Daily Fantasy Sports operator recently gained a full Ohio sports betting license, so this news is further evidence of its intention to launch a full sportsbook sometime soon.

One interesting decision for regulators will be the application of Caesars Sportsbook. Under its American Wagering Inc. division, the Las Vegas-based operator has signaled its intention to apply for a North Carolina sports betting license via its existing casino agreement with the state’s Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

Caesars operates North Carolina casinos Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River.

Cooper Wants Launch Before March Madness

Amid the application reviews and partnership announcements, Governor Roy Cooper set an ambitious goal to launch sports betting in the state before March Madness.

In a recent interview on local North Carolina sports podcast The Ovies + Giglio Show, Cooper expressed his determination to have the system up and running before the NCAA basketball tournament kicks off on March 19, 2024.

“The goal is to get it out there before March Madness. No guarantee that that’s the case. But that is the goal,” Cooper said.

The governor’s push isn’t without its challenges. Regulators have already ruled out a launch by February’s Super Bowl, citing the need for thorough rule approval, revenue assurances, and compliance checks.

Regardless of whether it will be ready for March or not, the market will be launching by June 15, as that is the deadline now enshrined in state law.

Market Takes Shape

Although we don’t yet know for certain who DraftKings, BetMGM, and Underdog Sports have partnered with, there is a small list of potential options they could have chosen from. That includes the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, Charlotte FC of the MLS, golfing venue Sedgefield Country Club, and several motor racing venues.

It has previously been reported that DraftKings has teamed with NASCAR, and BetMGM will be working with one of the state’s two motor racing tracks, either North Wilkesboro Speedway or Charlotte Motor Speedway. Neither operator has confirmed those partnerships.

Successful applicants will pay an initial $1 million fee to the state, with an 18% tax rate on gross betting revenues. As part of the tax arrangement, 13 North Carolina schools will receive monthly funding grants for their college sports programs. These proposed fees do not include any bespoke payment deals agreed between operators and local sports franchises.

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