While North Carolinians eagerly await news about when they can legally place wagers on sporting events online, such an announcement will result from many preliminary but essential steps. On Wednesday morning, the North Carolina Lottery Commission took one of those steps.
The commission members approved two independent testing labs for use by hopeful operator licensees and established a deadline for when certificates from such testing should be submitted. Additionally, the involvement of tribal casino operators in North Carolina’s legal online sports betting system moved forward.
Independent testing labs set for North Carolina online sportsbooks
Independent testing is a crucial component of approving online sportsbooks in regulated systems like that which North Carolina is establishing. Such inspections ensure that all aspects of the sportsbooks’ operation are in compliance with federal and state laws.
Before operators, aka online sportsbook brands, can receive licenses to take bets in North Carolina, they must submit certificates of compliance from one of the approved testing laboratories. On Wednesday, Jan. 10, the North Carolina Lottery Commission gave license applicants a choice of such labs.
The two approved labs are BMM Test Labs and Gaming Laboratories International. With the commission’s approval, applicants can now start working with them to obtain compliance certificates. That process should be smooth as both of those labs are popular. North Carolina’s field of operator applicants has worked with these labs in launches in other states.
During Wednesday’s meeting, North Carolina Lottery Deputy Executive Director of Gaming Compliance and Sports Betting Sterl Carpenter shared that the commission would like to receive such certificates from license applicants by Jan. 26.
That field of licensees has grown by two since the commission’s last update. North Carolina gamblers are likely familiar with both of the new applicants.
Tribal casino operators turn in online sports betting license applications
Carpenter also shared that the commission has received complete online sports betting license applications from entities representing both tribal casino operators in the state; the Catawba Indian Nation and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has been working with Caesars Sportsbook on a retail basis for years. Thus, that app could be available in North Carolina by virtue of that relationship, pending regulatory approval.
The Catawba Indian Nation’s gaming enterprise has no such relationship with an outside party. Its land-based sportsbook simply bears the same branding as the overall casino. The license application also bears that branding.
That suggests that the Catawba casino will “go it alone” regarding online sports betting in North Carolina. Joining the other applicants means North Carolinians could have up to nine options for legal online sports betting at some point.
- Catawba Two Kings
- ESPN Bet
- Underdog Sports
While there is still no official timeline for when online sportsbooks may start actually taking bets in North Carolina, the approval of the testing labs is a pivotal step toward that. If certificates are in by the end of this month, a launch in time for March Madness 2024 remains a possibility.