North Carolina sports betting law could change under budget proposals

North Carolina Gov Roy Cooper
Image: Shutterstock / Evan El-Amin

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper may have already put pen to paper on the state’s online sports betting law, but a state budget proposal that is being put through the legislature this week could fundamentally change the look of the market. 

Set to launch between January and June 2024, North Carolina’s sports betting law in its current guise stipulates a tax rate of 18% of GGR, while online and retail betting can take place at professional sports facilities such as the PNC Arena and the NASCAR tracks in the state. 

Yet, as the state budget documents obtained by local outlet WRAL uncovered, significant changes are set to take place, should the budget pass later this week. 

Changes include that there is no longer a limit of 12 operators that could enter the Tar Heel State, but that operators must enter a written agreement with the pro sports teams or the owners of facilities in order to obtain a license. 

Giving more power to the sports teams, the proposal states that “the Commission shall only license interactive sports wagering operators who have a written designation agreement… to offer and accept sports wagers on sporting events”.

This essentially means that the professional sports team in North Carolina as well as the North Carolina Lottery Commission – the regulator of the market – are the main points of entry for operators to enter the market. The current law does not require operators to have any agreement with the sports teams. 

A further proposal in the state budget demonstrates lawmakers caution toward online casino-style games that can masquerade as online lottery games. 

After defining lottery games and casino style games, the draft reads that lottery games that will be legal will not include those casino-style games that may use slot-machine-style technology or any imagery relating to casinos such as cherries, cards, suits, dice, craps or roulette symbols. 

Whether these measures are passed or not is an uncertainty at this stage as the state budget is a vast document outlining the $30bn worth of spending that the North Carolina government is proposing as well as some of the new legislation that lawmakers are eyeing up for the year ahead. 

As of now, sports betting is still set to launch in the Tar Heel State between Jan 8, 2024 and June 8, 2024.