The first set of regulations for legal online sports betting in North Carolina are now official. While there are more to come, the now official rules don’t include all the recommendations that the North Carolina Lottery Commission received.
The commission punted on one big item in the draft rules, potentially leaving the matter for the North Carolina legislature to address. Whether that will happen anytime soon remains unclear and it might be a matter that the commission has to face at some point.
North Carolina online sports betting progresses
Thursday’s meeting of the North Carolina Lottery Commission represented an important step toward online sportsbooks in the state actually beginning to accept wagers. As the first set of rules is now final, regulators can move on to other items.
The now-official rules address many aspects of online sports betting. Those include a general framework for how the state will regulate gambling and standards for licensees. Additionally, the rules create processes for both licensees and regulators to follow.
The rules are not complete at this stage, however. A second set of rules, adding in many more necessary elements, is in a public comment period right now. Upon their approval, potentially coming in early January 2024, the regs could be comprehensive.
As soon as the complete regulations are in place, the commission can start to consider license applications. That’s among the final steps necessary to allow bettors to put their money down on the apps. That might create a chance for apps to go live in North Carolina before March Madness 2024. It’s all still tentative and subject to change, though.
Change has already come to the first batch of online sports betting rules. It’s a significant one that could just punt an important issue for people in North Carolina to deal with later.
Lottery commission strips language governing certain DFS contests
Before voting to approve the rules on Thursday, the commission made one important change. They removed a section of the draft rules that defined fantasy sports contests in North Carolina. The language could have run afoul of certain types of pick ’em games that can resemble player prop wagers.
As far as the motivation for the change goes, commission members detailed two reasons. They expressed that they preferred to focus on getting rules in place so they could move on to considering licenses. Getting sportsbooks up and running as quickly as possible is a higher priority according to the commission members.
The members also shared that they would prefer to leave the duty of deciding what is and isn’t a legal fantasy contest up to the legislature. There are companies offering those types of games in North Carolina currently.
Enacting rules without clear legislative support could put the commission in a precarious legal position. Right now, there doesn’t seem to be any urgency in Raleigh to draft legislation on the topic. It might be something that sportsbook licensees push for later, though.
With the rules change, that becomes an issue for a later time. The most important thing is that online sportsbooks are one step closer to reality in North Carolina.