RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Legal Online Sports Betting in North Carolina will begin in March, state gambling regulators decided Wednesday, setting the start date for the eve of the beloved Atlantic Coast Conference men’s basketball tournament.
Members of the state lottery commission, charged last year by the General Assembly with licensing sports gambling operators, voted unanimously to set noon March 11 as the time sports betting can begin on mobile devices and computers.
The ACC Tournament begins in Washington on March 12, while the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments begin the following week.
Once sports betting goes live statewide, anyone 21 or older will be able to bet on professional, college or Olympic-style sports. But the opening date certainly highlights the importance of college basketball in North Carolina, where four ACC schools are located and the men’s tournament began in the 1950s.
“Betting on sporting events has been carried out since such events have taken place, but this time it will be legal, it will be carried out safely and fairly and it will be carried out under rules designed to encourage responsible gambling,” the commission chairman said. Ripley Rand said in a press release.
Nine entities have applied to the commission to accept bets in the state, the commission said. Such applicants must receive a certificate of compliance in order to offer betting on their online platforms. Application reviews continue.
Starting March 1, betting customers can create new accounts and deposit money with a licensed operator who has obtained a certificate. This will give the public time to choose between competing operators based on betting conditions and to get used to the online interface and responsible gaming features, Sterl Carpenter, a commission executive who oversees gambling, told commission members sports gambling.
The 2023 law passed by the state legislature and signed by North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said sports gambling could begin no later than June 15. He also authorized in-person sports gambling at approved sportsbooks and parimutuel betting on horse racing. but neither will start in March. According to Carpenter, in-person wagering will begin on a “case-by-case basis” as interested operators meet the requirements.
Every gambling operator seeking a slice of the new North Carolina market had to, in its application, make an agreement with a state professional team, or with certain golf or auto racing venues, or with government bodies, to obtain a license. Applications are not public, but some applicants have announced such agreements. For example, the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets have a deal with bet365.
Legal sports betting has already taken place in North Carolina at three casinos operated by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians or the Catawba Indian Nation. The two tribes have now applied for licenses online from the state.
North Carolina would become the 30th state, along with the District of Columbia, to offer mobile sports betting, according to North Carolina American Gaming Association.
Getting sports betting up and running was a huge undertaking for the commission, which until now had no prior experience regulating such betting.
“The commission has directed staff to implement sports betting as soon as practicable and to do so in a thorough, professional, transparent manner and with the highest standards of integrity,” said Carpenter, who was hired last summer after regulating sports betting in Massachusetts. “We have done our best to comply with this directive.”