North Carolina Gaming Regulators Set March 11 As Online Sports Betting Target Launch Date

Written By Derek Helling on January 24, 2024
hand holding phone with sportsbook

The North Carolina Lottery Commission voted Wednesday to establish March 11 as the potential start date for legal online sports betting in the state. The commission also voted to set March 1 as the date when sportsbook licensees can start accepting account registrations and player deposits, pending further regulatory matters.

With establishing an official timeframe for the beginning of legal online sports betting in North Carolina, time is even more of the essence for license applicants and regulators. Eager bettors should note that the timeframe remains subject to change at this point.

North Carolina online sportsbooks in final stages of preparation

With just over five weeks before they might be able to start taking customer signups, hopeful licensees in North Carolina have one objective: completing the necessary steps to acquire a license. That focuses on obtaining a certificate of compliance for their systems.

Between now and March 1, the commission should start issuing licenses to qualified applicants. Currently, nine parties have submitted complete applications for operator licenses. They are:

  • Bet365
  • BetMGM
  • Catawba Two Kings
  • DraftKings
  • Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
  • ESPN Bet
  • Fanatics
  • FanDuel
  • Underdog Sports

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has had a relationship with Caesars Entertainment for years, meaning Caesars Sportsbook should be coming to North Carolina pending regulatory approval. To date, the Catawba Indian Nation’s gaming enterprise has no such relationship with an online gambling company and could be planning to build its own online sportsbook brand.

North Carolinians should note that the commission has yet to award any licenses. All or any of these license applications could still get denied. As of the time of this writing, applicants still have two days to submit their certificates of compliance to meet a deadline the commission had set for that action.

If everything proceeds smoothly, North Carolina residents should be able to legally bet on sports online just in time for March Madness 2024. If all goes well, the next step for the legislature could be to consider North Carolina online casinos.

Sportsbooks could meet March Madness launch goal

For 2024, the men’s and women’s NCAA Division I basketball national championship tournaments, better known as March Madness, will begin after the tentative start date for legal North Carolina online sports betting. Those dates are:

  • Men’s and women’s selection shows — March 17
  • Men’s First Four games — March 19 and 20
  • Women’s First Four games — March 20 and 21
  • Men’s First Round — March 21 and 22
  • Women’s First Round — March 22 and 23

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper revealed during a podcast in late December that his hope was for online sports betting to go live before March Madness.

North Carolina law does not restrict wagering on college sports, including games involving in-state teams, in any way relative to other sports. The rules include restrictions like betting on replay reviews and injuries, however, they are standard across all sports.

Schools like Duke, North Carolina, and North Carolina State will be available for bettors to wager upon should they qualify for the tournaments. Again, however, that’s assuming all the remaining regulatory matters are resolved in time.

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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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