As the Old North State gears up for the launch of online betting later this year, the race for a piece of the action appears more intense than earlier imagined. Emerging reports suggest that there had been an influx of license application requests in the state, with not less than 17 operators showing moderate interest.
Based on the current state of events, North Carolina is expected to have an initial eight licensees when sports betting kicks off in the not-too-distant future. However, the depth of interested players waiting in the wings should not be underestimated. In fact, the potential lineup of reserves could reveal themselves sooner than later.
The licensing process at North Carolina is in its final stages as revealed at the North Carolina Lottery Sports Betting Advisory Committee meeting on Jan. 4. At the meeting, members recommended two independent testing labs for the Lottery’s approval.
Information about the progress of license applications also came to fore. Sterl Carptener, the deputy executive director of the Lottery revealed that the number of operators flirting with the idea of a North Carolina sports betting license far exceeded those who took action.
Despite this flurry of interest, only seven applicants were able to submit their application forms before the due date last December. These potential licensees are, in alphabetical order, as follows:
If these seven are awarded licenses, North Carolina residents may have as many as eight sportsbooks options at launch. This headcount includes Caesars Sportsbook, which already enjoys access due to its partnership with the Eastern Cherokee Band of Indians tribe.
North Carolina’s online sports betting legislation further requires that potential licensees have partnerships with a sports franchise, NASCAR Track, sporting arena or PGA Tour course in the state. As it stands, four operators have secured partnership deals. bet365 is affiliated with the Charlotte Hornets, ESPN Bet with the Quail Hollow Clubn, Fanatics with the Carolina Hurricanes and FanDuel currently partners with the PGA Tour.
The management of DraftKings has said the company would make an announcement on its partnership soon, but the other two operators haven’t made anything public yet. Popular sporting entities like Carolina Panthers and North Carolina Courage are also without partners yet, suggesting a possible match up with the remaining operators.
Carpenter has restated that the commission will continue to consider applications on a rolling basis. However, operators that did not meet the Dec. 27 deadline will not be able to kick off operations on launch date. The deputy executive director also declined to disclose the names of the companies that requested license applications.
Speaking of launch date, Governor Cooper recently appeared on a sports talk show where he hinted at a possible launch date ahead of March Madness. The earlier plan was to get sports betting ready by Super Bowl, but the state has since announced that the prospective date was improbable.
Cooper remains keen on debuting online sports betting before a major sporting event. With March Madness the next best option on the radar before the statutorily required June 14 date, the governor will be doing all that’s necessary to get ready in time.
“The goal is to get it out there before March Madness. No guarantee that that’s the case, but that is the goal,” Cooper said on the Ovies + Giglio Show. “They’re working on it as fast as they can. I had them all in the room over there the other day pushing them saying we’ve got to get this done.”
March Madness is set to begin on Tuesday, March 19, 2024.
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