A North Carolina Lottery committee has recommended approval of sports betting rulemaking policy and procedures just hours before a potential revamping of the state’s sports betting law in Raleigh.
Unanimous approval of the recommended policy came Wednesday from the Operations and Personnel Committee of the North Carolina State Lottery Commission, which is responsible for standing up sports betting between Jan. 8 and June 14, 2024. That responsibility comes from 2023 HB 347, which authorizes up to 12 mobile sportsbooks and a limited number of retail sportsbooks.
But that law may change. State lawmakers are considering removing the 12-operator limit as part of 11th-hour budget discussions this week. The budget conference committee report agreed upon Tuesday would instead require the lottery commission to license mobile operators with a “written designation agreement” with pro sports organizations in the state.
Nine organizations would qualify under the new proposal.
No mention of the new legislative proposal was referenced by commission staff before today’s committee vote. The budget language — with or without the sportsbook language — is expected to be finalized by the North Carolina General Assembly on Thursday or Friday.
A proposal to authorize new casinos through the state budget was pulled from legislative consideration earlier this week.
Lottery Wants ‘Transparent’ Rulemaking Process
Rather than waiting for new directives from state lawmakers — the same lawmakers who legalized mobile and retail sports betting and horse racing betting by passing HB 347 just over three months ago — the committee today voted to recommend that the full commission adopt a policy that would allow it to proceed with rulemaking under existing law.
Those rules are forthcoming, with transparency expected to be the keyword throughout the process.
“The goal of this proposed policy is to have a very transparent, deliberative process that gives the commission information from interested stakeholders and the public that have an interest in how sports betting and ADW will be operated in the state,” NC Education Lottery Deputy General Counsel Eric Snider told the committee before it voted on the policy today.
“Either the full commission or a designated committee of the commission will serve as a procedural gatekeeper for any proposal rulemaking that will go before the public,” said Snider. “We want to make interested stakeholders aware of these processes … Rapid implementation to meet our deadline is important.”
North Carolina State Lottery Commission Chair Ripley Rand sits on the Operations committee and voted in favor of the policy recommendation. He thanked commission staff for creating a policy that Rand said will allow the commission to “do things quickly and nimbly and do it in a transparent way that involves the public.”
Sports Betting Licensing Portal Contractor Could Be Selected Next Week
Additionally, the committee today recommended an amendment to the NC Education Lottery’s contract with GLI (Gaming Labs International). The gaming testing and certification firm was hired on Aug. 11 to provide sports betting implementation services and training to the full commission. Today’s recommendation would amend GLI’s contract to include services related to ADW licensure, and internal control review for new operators.
The full commission is expected to choose a contractor to set up the state’s sports betting licensing portal as soon as next week, according to a request for proposal sent out on Aug. 9.
NC Education Lottery Deputy Executive Director of Gaming Compliance and Sports Betting Sterl Carpenter, who appeared before the committee today, clarified that time is of the essence to meet current statutory timelines.
“Most importantly we need to have rapid implementation of this software product to get up and running before the June (14) deadline,” said Carpenter.