(The Center Square) – The North Carolina Lottery Commission will begin accepting sports betting license applications this week, but there will be no bets on or before Super Bowl LVIII, officials said Wednesday.
“We know that the betting public is very interested in knowing the date that the first bets can be made in North Carolina and there are a number of factors in determining what that date will be,” commission Chairman Ripley Rand said in a statement.
“We see questions about whether sports betting will be up and running in time for the Super Bowl,” he said. “It’s clear, however, with all the work remaining to be done and the timetable set out in state law that unfortunately won’t be the case.”
Rand suggested the commission will have a better idea of when sports betting will go live “early in the new year.”
Factors that will impact the timing include the number of operator applications received, the date they’re completed, when supporting information is submitted, the completion of the rulemaking process, and the time it takes for background and internal control checks, and certifications from an independent testing lab.
“Once we have all of that information, we’ll be able to set a date,” Rand said. “So applicants have a big role to play in determining the commission’s review of the information.”
The commission on Wednesday approved a 30-page application and set a deadline for submissions of Dec. 27. Once submitted, the commission will have 60 days to review the applications, and operators will have 10 days to correct any issues, Cari Boyce, chairwoman of the commission’s sports betting committee, said in a video statement.
“Vetting an application will be a detailed process,” she said. “We expect application submissions from operators could be as many as 1,000 pages.”
Boyce noted that every applicant will need a written designation agreement with a sports team, league or venue, a change to the initial sports betting law that came in the state budget. 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 NASCAR tracks and golf pro tour stops. Several sportsbooks have already signaled intentions to pursue licenses, including BetMGM, DraftKings, Tipico Sportsbook, ESPN BET, and FanDuel.
Sports betting in North Carolina has been limited to casinos on tribal lands, with active retail sportsbooks at Catawba Two Kings Casino, Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel.
Since sports betting was approved by lawmakers and signed into law by Gov. Roy Cooper in June, the commission has hired an executive director, licensing and legal staff, and a global gaming firm to guide testing and certifications. In addition to approving the operator application on Wednesday, the commission also launched a new website, NCgaming.gov, to provide public updates on the progress toward launch.
The commission approved a first round of rules in mid-November, with public comment now underway for a second round of rules. The commission’s sports betting committee is slated to meet next on Dec. 6.
Lawmakers gave the commission until June 14 to go live, though the authorizing legislation allows for 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.