North Carolina Sets Rules for Fantasy Contests, Mimicking Sports Betting


North Carolina Sets Rules for Fantasy Contests, Mimicking Sports Betting

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The North Carolina State Lottery Commission’s legal sports betting committee has taken steps to define and regulate fantasy contests in the state, distinguishing them from sports betting. In doing so, they raised questions about the status of pick ’em-style fantasy contests.

The proposed regulations define “fantasy contests” as games in which participants compete, and the outcome primarily depends on their knowledge and skill, determined by statistical results from real-world sports events. These contests do not include:

(a) Proposition wagering or contests that resemble sports betting. (b) Games where individuals predict if real-world teams or players will surpass specific statistical achievements. (c) Contests where an individual’s fantasy team lacks their knowledge, skill, input, or control. (d) Contests involving a single individual, an entire real-world team roster, or individuals from the same team. (e) Contests where an individual fantasy player doesn’t compete against at least one other individual fantasy player.

The distinction made between fantasy contests and sports betting means that if pick ’em contests don’t fit the criteria for fantasy contests, they may be classified as sports betting in North Carolina. This would require operators to obtain licenses, making it illegal to offer or accept wagers without one.

The Coalition for Fantasy Sports, supported by PrizePicks, Sleeper, and Underdog Fantasy, expressed confidence that North Carolina’s Lottery Commission would establish reasonable regulations in line with the state’s sports betting legislation. They anticipate participating in the rulemaking process to protect the fantasy sports that North Carolinians have enjoyed for years.

North Carolina’s initial sports betting rules are currently open for public feedback and will undergo a review process. The state’s crackdown on pick ’em contests mirrors similar actions taken in Florida and Ohio. However, companies like Underdog contend that their products are legal, while rivals like DraftKings and FanDuel have called for states to take the lead in determining the legality of pick ’em-style fantasy contests.

The debate continues as industry leaders debate whether these contests are games of skill or games of luck, highlighting the need for a legal and regulatory framework that will likely be decided at the state level.


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