(The Center Square) – Sports betting in North Carolina will go live on March 11, a day before the ACC Tournament tips off in Washington.
The North Carolina Lottery Commission authorization on Wednesday was unanimous. It was welcome news for Tobacco Road enthusiasts wishing to bet legally on the state’s time-honored tradition.
The NCAA Tournament follows the launch date with Selection Sunday and March 19 play-in games. There are round of 64 and 32 games this year in Charlotte on the traditional opening weekend.
Prelaunch registration and enrollment will begin on March 1 for licensed operators who have received a certificate of compliance from the commission staff, said Sterl Carpenter, the commission’s deputy executive for gaming compliance and sports betting. Bettors will also be able to set up their accounts.
At noon Eastern on March 11, sports wagers can begin for those approved.
“In-person betting will follow on a case-by-case basis,” Carpenter said.
State officials are vetting applications from nine operators who met a recommended December deadline. Those applicants are working through the process to submit internal controls, one of several steps to secure a certificate of compliance that’s due by Jan. 26.
Others include testing, demonstration of ability to submit daily reports, a player account management platform review, geolocation testing, demonstration of betting apps, and proof of meeting monetary obligations to the state and for reserves.
“License application review and certificate of compliance work can and will be happening at the same time,” Carpenter said.
Operator applicants currently under review include FanDuel, BetMGM, DraftKings, Fanatics, Bet365, ESPN Bet, Underdog Sports and operators associated with tribal gaming. The commission has also received completed applications from five service providers and 20 suppliers. The commission set a 60-day timeline from submission to vet completed applications, which officials said can run more than 1,000 pages.
The commission’s Sports Betting Committee is next scheduled to meet on Tuesday, followed by another commission meeting slated for Feb. 7.
The launch date bypasses millions in potential revenues from the 58th Super Bowl, but aligns with Gov. Roy Cooper’s wish to authorize sports betting ahead of a March Madness. Legislation approved last year allowed the commission to launch sports betting any time after Jan. 8, with a hard deadline of June 14.
A legislative fiscal analysis estimated the state’s 18% betting tax will generate $64.4 million next fiscal year, with other estimates ranging from $47 million after three years to $126 million in year one.
“In a few short months we’ve built our infrastructure and built a regulatory infrastructure from scratch,” Carpenter said. “With this proposed authorization we’re telling the public we’re ready for sports wagers.”