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North Carolina Lottery Fills Out Proposed Sports Betting Regulations

Written By Derek Helling on November 8, 2023
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The first round of regulations for legal online sports betting in North Carolina missed some crucial tenets. That is no longer the case, however, as the North Carolina State Lottery Commission filled many of those gaps.

On Tuesday, the Commission published the latest draft rules to govern online sports betting in the state. The new language addresses many legal and technical standards.

Most importantly, there are responsible gambling provisions for citizens to consider.

Proposals governing advertising, self-exclusion surface

In mid-October, the Commission submitted the first draft regulations for online sports betting in North Carolina. The public comment period on that submission closed on Nov. 1. However, the rules remain unofficial.

On Tuesday, the Commission boosted the content of those proposed rules significantly. The draft regulations now stand at around 250 pages and are nearly inclusive of all matters about the governance of online sports betting.

Among the most prominent aspects, the latest additions address is responsible gambling. For example, the new language requires licensees to adopt and share responsible gambling plans with regulators. In addition, there are rules governing voluntary exclusion programs.

Furthermore, the new additions include prohibitions on “free” and “risk-free” language in sportsbook promotions. By and large, the rules around responsible gambling controls are similar to those in other US jurisdictions.

There are a few items that could be of interest to bettors and sports fans in North Carolina. Additionally, a few matters remain unresolved in the current language.

Draft rules limit integrations at sporting venues

While North Carolina law allows sports entertainment enterprises in the state to apply for sportsbook licenses, the rules limit how fans of those entities will experience that activity. That especially applies to collegiate endeavors in North Carolina.

One of the new rules addresses naming rights for sporting facilities in the state directly.

“No Operator shall contract for or purchase the right to name a Sports Facility or racetrack, or any physical locations within the Sports Facility or racetrack, including but not limited to seating locations, luxury boxes, parking lots, concourses, track, playing field, court, golf holes, locker rooms, benches, concession stands, and the like.”

However, that standard bears some exceptions. If there is a betting lounge at Bank of America Stadium, for instance, it could bear the sportsbook brand name associated with it. Also, under the definition of “operator” in the rules, a gambling company that does not have a North Carolina license could theoretically purchase naming rights to such a facility.

Of course, the payoff for such an entity, given that it does not operate in North Carolina, would be doubtful. Thus, that wrinkle probably amounts to a moot point.

Another relevant tenet applies to advertising standards. Advertising for sportsbooks cannot include or depict schools or colleges.

Such marketing also may not imply participation from colleges or college athletic associations. Moreover, the rules ban any such promotion on college campuses, in college publications, including school newspapers, and in broadcasts that colleges control.

Should these rules become final as currently written, there won’t be any ESPN Bet advertising at Cameron Indoor or the Dean E. Smith Center. However, there are no rules limiting ads for sportsbooks at places like PNC Arena or WakeMed Soccer Park.

One pivotal area that the rules do not yet address is revenue and tax reporting procedures. While the rules require licensees to make daily reports to regulators regarding activity, it’s still unclear how often the Commission will share that information with the public.

Otherwise, these provisions are now up for public comment and potential approval. The new public comment deadline is on Nov. 27 and a public hearing on Nov. 20 in Raleigh.

Approval could come in early January. Should that be the case, online sportsbooks in North Carolina could be operational before March Madness 2024.

Photo by AP Photo/Mike McCarn
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is the assistant managing editor of PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including finance, regulation, and technology in the gaming industry. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa and resides in Chicago

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