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North Carolina Sports Betting: New Budget Shifts Power To Pro Teams, Leagues

Bill Speros for Bookies.com

Bill Speros  | 7 mins

North Carolina Sports Betting: New Budget Shifts Power To Pro Teams, Leagues

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The new state budget includes major changes in the process to launch  North Carolina mobile sports betting, which set to begin in the Tar Heel State as soon as Jan. 8, 2024. 

The North Carolina State Lottery Commission loses out to the major-league teams in the Tar Heel state and other pro-sports organizations when it comes to selecting and approving potential sports books. The budget with the new procedures cleared the legislature late Friday. Gov. Roy Cooper said he will let the $30 billion package become law without his signature. That means it would take effect on October 2. 

The Commission on Wednesday briefly mentioned the new budget rules but said it has yet to determine exactly how it would effect the Commission's work. It also formed a Sports Betting Committee. 

The new budget eliminates the limit of 12 operators on the law that was passed earlier this year. And it wipes out the wording that allowed the Lottery Commission to initially approve each operator, shifting that power approval to the pro sports, teams, organizations, and venues. 

Under the current law, sports book operators like DraftKings and FanDuel do not have to have a relationship with any pro team, league, or venue to be licensed. 

The new budget will requires sports book operators have a "written designation agreement" with a professional sports team, the owners of certain big-league sports venues. the PGA Tour or NASCAR first. 

Only then could the Commission license "interactive sports wagering operators." 

North Carolina Sports Betting Update 

In addition to forming its Sports Betting Committee, the Commission formally introduced Sterl Carpenter as the North Carolina's executive director of gaming compliance and sports betting. 

Carpenter said none of the four companies seeking to manage the Enterprise Regulatory Compliance System the will manage applications for those seeking to be licensed in the state have met the necessary criteria. The search for will continue as North Carolina works to launch by its deadline, Carpenter said. 

The Commission on Wednesday also modified a contract it had with GLI to help it with rule-making, licensing procedures, development of an audit program, and risk control. The company has assisted Massachusetts, Kentucky, and Vermont in setting up their betting ecosystems. Carpenter most recently spent 8 years as a regulator with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

Carpenter is a 30-year veteran of the gaming industry and worked to guide sports betting from its legislative inception a year ago to its launch and implementation in Massachusetts. He played a key role on the MGC staff as the Commission had to create and implement more than 225 regulations leading up to sports betting being launched in the Bay State. Carpenter is tasked with overseeing rules and regulations in accordance with HB 347, which Gov. Roy Cooper signed into law on June 14. 

HB 347 calls for the North Carolina State Lottery Commission to oversee online sports betting, statewide retail sports betting off Indian lands, and parimutuel wagering on horse racing. This includes North Carolina betting apps

“This commission and the staff have been tasked with the enormous responsibility of licensing and regulating the newly enacted wagering activities while at the same time maintaining the quality work and highest standards of integrity with the lottery,” North Carolina State Lottery Commission Chair Ripley Rand said in a statement. 

The Commission has created a North Carolina sports betting website to educate residents on both the progress and details of how sports betting will work, where the money will go, and information on responsible gaming.  

"Many people want to know when North Carolina will begin permitting legal sports betting. The commission and staff take these responsibilities seriously and are committed to ensuring the job is done in a complete, professional, transparent, and timely manner. We will keep the public up to date about when these programs will launch," Rand added. 

North Carolina Sports Betting Timeline

  • August 31, 2023: North Carolina State Lottery hires Gaming Laboratories Inc. to assist with launch of North Carolina sports betting.
  • July 31, 2023: The North Carolina State Lottery Commission names Sterl Carpenter as executive director of gaming compliance and sports betting
  • June 14, 2023: Governor Roy Cooper signed HB 347 into law; the bill allows for up to 12 mobile sportsbooks, which could launch as soon as January 8, 2024. The latest NC sports betting can launch is June 14, 2024.
  • June 7, 2023: The House votes 68-45 to concur with the Senate's changes to HB 347. The bill now awaits the signature of Gov. Roy Cooper.
  • September 22, 2020: A $30 billion budget clears the state House and Senate that includes language stripping away the power to initially allow sports betting operators from the N.C. State Lottery Commission.

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Sports Betting Now Legal In North Carolina

Cooper signed HB 347 in a ceremony at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte on June 14. The bill allows online and retail betting off Native American lands on professional, college, amateur, esports, and other events. It also permits parimutuel wagering on horse racing. The Spectrum Center is one of several venues that house professional teams and events that will be allowed to host a retail sportsbook. Those 21 and over located within the state at the time are allowed to wager. 

HB 347 initially cleared the House in March by a 64-45 vote. The bill allows up to 12 online skins in North Carolina and 8 retail betting sites. That could change as noted above. 

North Carolina currently allows retail sports betting at two Native American casinos. A bid to bring online betting to the state fell one vote short of passage in the House last year. That gave the push to legalize online betting a boost heading into this year’s session.

However, if it doesn't launch on January 8, 2024 (the day of the College Football Playoff National Championship Game), North Carolina sports betting must begin no later than June 14, 2024.

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North Carolina Sports Betting Bill Details

The bill permits betting on college events, something that was not included in the bill that failed last year. The state tax rate on net gaming revenues for the books is 18%. Operators will pay $1 million for a five-year license. 

The bill prohibits operators from deducting promos and credits from their taxable income. That is a trend that has been adopted elsewhere and cuts into the operators’ net profits. It would allow retail sites to open off Native American lands and take cash wagers. It also introduces parimutuel wagering on horse races. 

Those eight retail betting sites allowed to take wagers are those that play host to a NASACR Series race, a pro golf tournament with more than 50,000 live spectators. And those facilities that are home to MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL, NHL or NWSL franchises. The NBA Charlotte Hornets, NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, and NFL Carolina Panthers all call the Tar Heel State home. 

Money from license fees and taxes will be directed to several state departments, including $2 million annually for the Department of Health and Human Services for gambling addiction education and treatment programs. Along with $300,000 to the athletic departments at several universities and colleges.

North Carolina Sports Betting: What Happens Next?

North Carolina is the 33rd state with active legal sports betting and would be the 28th state to launch mobile betting. However, Kentucky, Vermont and Maine, which have already legalized the practice, could launch mobile betting beforehand. The gap between betting legislation being signed and the first bets being made has varied widely by state. Some states, like New Jersey and Pennsylvania, had already enacted betting legislation before the Supreme Court’s 2018 PASPA decision that allowed the practice to go nationwide. 

Massachusetts is the most recent state to launch both mobile and retail betting. Its sports betting law was signed on August 9, 2022. The first retail bets were taken on January 31 of this year. Mobile betting began there on March 10, seven months minus 1 day after sports betting was formally legalized. 

The new law in North Carolina does not affect the current retail betting allowed on Native American lands. Betting on professional, college, electronic, and amateur sports would be allowed, in addition to any other event approved by the State Lottery Commission.

The bill allows bettors to use, among other tools, credit cards, prepaid cards, foreign currency, and crypto/virtual currency to fund their accounts. 

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About the Author

Bill Speros for Bookies.com
Bill Speros
Bill Speros is an award-winning journalist and editor whose career includes stops at USA Today Sports Network / Golfweek, Cox Media, ESPN, Orlando Sentinel and Denver Post.