NC pro teams, leagues get more power under proposed changes to sports betting law


Proposed Amendments to Sports Betting Law Empower North Carolina’s Professional Teams and Leagues

Proposed Amendments to Sports Betting Law Grant Greater Influence to North Carolina’s Premier Professional Teams in Licensing Mobile Operators for Sports Betting

North Carolina’s Mobile Sports Betting Law Faces Major Revisions in Proposed State Budget

North Carolina’s mobile sports gambling law, still awaiting implementation, could see significant transformations if a new state budget proposal is adopted.

State legislators are poised to deliberate on the $30-billion budget proposal this week, a draft of which has been obtained by WRAL and corroborated by an insider familiar with the negotiations. It’s a common practice for state budgets to encompass unrelated policy adjustments, and this iteration is no exception.

The budget proposal seeks to revise portions of North Carolina’s recently enacted mobile sports betting law, which was ratified earlier this legislative session and subsequently signed into law by Governor Roy Cooper. However, it’s important to note that mobile sports betting in the state will not take effect until 2024, in accordance with the existing legislation.

The most notable alteration introduced by the budget proposal pertains to the process by which mobile sports betting operators can obtain licenses within the state. Unlike the current law, which imposes a limit of 12 mobile betting operators, the proposed budget eliminates this numerical cap. Instead, it mandates that operators secure a “written designation agreement” with a professional sports team, the proprietors of certain major sports venues, NASCAR, or the PGA Tour.

The proposed legislation explicitly states, “The Commission shall only license interactive sports wagering operators who have a written designation agreement.” In contrast, the current law does not mention any such “written designation agreement” requirement in the context of licensing operators. Instead, it states, “The Commission shall authorize no more than 12 interactive sports wagering operators.”

This significant change essentially gives North Carolina’s premier professional sports teams—including the Hurricanes, Hornets, Panthers, NC Courage, and Charlotte FC—along with select sports facilities in the state, a substantial say in determining which operators can offer sports betting services. Previously, operators were not obligated to establish relationships with sports teams, facilities, or leagues to obtain a license. Now, such agreements are compulsory.

The exact impact of this change on the number of operators allowed is unclear. The North Carolina Lottery Commission has yet to issue any licenses and is currently not accepting applications.

However, the revised language implies that teams, facilities, and leagues can only enter into a written designation agreement with one operator, and this designated operator must oversee the in-person sportsbook at the respective stadium, arena, racetrack, or golf course.

As per the existing law, up to eight facilities in North Carolina will have the opportunity to host sportsbooks, including Raleigh’s PNC Arena and Cary’s WakeMed Soccer Park. Carolina Hurricanes’ General Manager, Don Waddell, previously indicated that PNC Arena would establish a temporary sportsbook as soon as regulations permit, with plans for a more permanent sportsbook as part of a substantial arena renovation.

Another noteworthy adjustment in the proposal explicitly permits North Wilkesboro Speedway to operate an in-person sportsbook. This permission is granted on the condition that the speedway “hosted at least one National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing All-Star Race occurring after January 1, 2022.”

Mobile sports betting is slated to commence no earlier than January 8 and no later than June 15, although an exact launch date has yet to be determined by the Lottery Commission.


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