Next steps toward sports betting launch are public comment period, hearing

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(The Center Square) – The North Carolina Lottery Commission is collecting public comment on a series of proposed rules as it continues to move toward launching sports betting by June.

The commission’s Sports Betting Committee on Tuesday approved a notice of proposed rulemaking for its first set of general, sports betting and pari-mutuel wagering rules to govern the industry authorized by lawmakers this summer.

The proposal involves definitions of terms used in the legislation and others; the scope and application of rules; duties and authorities of the commission’s director; methods of payment; confidential materials; application details; supporting materials; timelines; and other provisions.

The commission will accept public comments on the proposed rules through Nov. 1. A public hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Oct. 27 at the Lottery Commission’s Raleigh headquarters on Capital Boulevard. Those who wish to speak must register with the commission at least one day before the hearing.

“No applications for licenses for sports betting or for advanced deposit wagering associated with horse racing are available at this time, but these materials will be available in the future,” according to the lottery website.

Sterl Carpenter, a former regulator with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission hired by the commission in July to helm the launch in North Carolina, said Tuesday there will be a second round of rulemaking to follow.

The rules announced Tuesday follow tweaks to the sports wagering law included in recently enacted state budget that shifted from a cap of “no more than 12 interactive sports wagering operators” to a system that requires a “written designation agreement” with sports teams and facility owners.

North Carolina is home to the NFL Carolina Panthers, NHL Carolina Hurricanes, NBA Charlotte Hornets, MLS Charlotte FC and NWSL’s North Carolina Courage, as well as multiple tracks hosting NASCAR races and golf facilities hosting pro tour stops.

While it remains unclear whether the change will increase or decrease the number of sports betting licenses available, the proposed rules clarify licenses issued to sports wagering operators will be contingent upon maintaining those agreements.

Rule 2B-007 states operators will be required to notify the commission “as soon as practicable” and within 72 hours of any changes or discontinuance of the written designation agreements.

“A Sport Wagering Operator’s five-year License shall expire upon the earlier of five years or breach, discontinuance, or other cessation of the Written Designation Agreement required under (the law),” it reads. “In the event the License expires for reason of breach, discontinuance, or other cessation, the Sports Wagering Operator shall engage in timely and complete efforts to wind up its operations and ensure payments and refunds are provided to interactive account holders.”

The rules unveiled on Tuesday are the latest progress in recent months toward next year’s launch, with other work involving a $571,500 contract with Gaming Labs International to provide implementation services, and selection of a contractor to create a new licensing portal for operators to submit applications.

A legislative fiscal analysis released in May estimated revenue from the state’s sports betting tax at $64.6 million in fiscal year 2024-25, growing to $100.6 million in 2027-28. Other estimates have ranged from $47 million after three years to a first-year haul of up to $126 million.

The law allows the Lottery Commission to launch sports betting any time between January and June, though Carpenter said last month that it would need “rapid implementation” of software to meet the June deadline.

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