North Carolina regulators back off plans to limit fantasy sports contests

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Regulators in North Carolina have apparently decided they’ve bitten off more than they could chew when it came to fantasy sports.

Roughly a month after proposing regulations that would establish a very narrow reading of fantasy sports, the North Carolina Lottery’s sports betting staff is recommending setting these proposed regulations aside and focusing on the sports betting piece of the law.

In a deck presented to the state commission on Thursday, the staff formally recommended removing fantasy language. The presentation referenced the disagreement in the public comments about how fantasy was defined. The group said, “additional time is needed to evaluate the Commission’s duties and responsibilities, if any, with respect to ‘fantasy contests’ or ‘fantasy games’ including how or whether to define such contests.”

Rep. Jason Saine, the sponsor of the sports betting bill, said after the rules were proposed limiting fantasy that his intent with the legislation was to open up the industry to as many groups as possible and the intent was not to limit opportunities.

The proposed regulations aimed to limit fantasy to exclude props-style fantasy as well as fantasy vs. the house.

The NC Lottery staff did note that they will observe how other states evaluate and define fantasy sports and potentially revisit the issue at a later date.

In the meantime, the lottery will continue to meet regularly and establish the framework needed for launch early in 2024. On Thursday, the group approved the preliminary betting catalog for the state. While the legislation allows launch on Jan. 8, regulators have said they will almost certainly miss that deadline.