Commission considering ‘free’ promotions, ban on naming rights



(The Center Square) – Restrictions on “free” promotions and a ban on naming rights for betting companies are in the latest set of rules for sports betting ahead of launch in North Carolina.

The rules under consideration include chapters on “general wagering” and “sports wagering.” They cover auditing and internal controls, house wagering, responsible gaming, wagering accounts, in-person betting facilities, and advertising and marketing.

A public hearing on the proposal is set for Monday of next week at the commission’s Raleigh headquarters.

Among the most notable rules is a prohibition on facility naming rights for sports betting companies.

The proposed rule states, “No operator shall contract for or purchase the right to name a sports facility or racetrack, or any physical location 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.”

The only exception is “the name of the wagering facility may bear or utilize the operator’s tradename.”

The proposed rules also aim to restrict promotional offers for “free” or “risk free” bets that have drawn controversy in other states. In some cases, sports betting operators have used the terms to attract bettors into promotions that allow bettors who lose to receive site credits, rather than recoup their loss, or prevent bettors from cashing out until they reach a wagering threshold.

The NBA earlier this year banned the terms “free” and “risk-free” for use in league content. Ohio, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and New York are states that prohibit the terms.

The rules under consideration do not ban the terms outright, but instead impose restrictions on their use. “Free bets” could only be used for promotions that are “in fact free and without any cost to the player,” according to the proposal.

Operators would be prohibited from using “risk-free” if “those promotions or bonuses require the player to incur a loss or risk the player’s own money to use or withdraw winnings from the purportedly risk-free wager.”

Other proposed rules limit anonymous wagers to $10,000; ban advertising with images of college students or those with college apparel or in school settings; and prohibit advertising at schools or college campuses or venues. The rules require operators to include a statement clarifying that no one under the age of 21 can participate in sports betting.

Sports wagering was signed into law by Gov. Roy Cooper in June, with a deadline for implementation of June 14, 2024. The legislation authorizes a launch any time after Jan. 8. A legislative fiscal analysis pegs revenues from the state’s 18% betting tax at $64.6 million in fiscal year 2024-25, while other estimates have ranged from $47 million after three years to $126 million in the first year.

More rule-making rounds are anticipated. The North Carolina Lottery Commission is collecting public comment on the this second round through Nov. 27 while the committee and full commission will consider the first round before then.

The commission is employing an expedited rulemaking process that involves public comment periods of “no fewer than 15 calendar days,” suggesting all rules may not be finalized until the spring.



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