RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The North Carolina State Lottery Commission voted March 11 as the official start date for legal sports betting in the Tar Heel state.
Lawmakers passed bills and Gov. Roy Cooper signed them into law in June of 2023 to legalize sports betting across the state.
Since then, regulators have been discussing how to best enact sports betting in a safe and smooth way.
The lottery commission determined anyone over 21 years of age will be allowed to legally wager on sports, if they have an account with an officially licensed operator in the state.
The bets can be made in person at designated areas, over the phone or via an electronic device. Although all of the first bets will be made online, as the authorization process for in-person betting is still being worked out by the lottery commission.
At this time, the lottery commission has not approved any sports betting licenses. The commission said it is reviewing nine license applications for interactive sports wagering operators. Two of those operators are believed to be Fanatics (which has partnered with the Carolina Hurricanes) and Bet MGM (which has partnered with the Charlotte Motor Speedway).
Tyler Andrews, the managing editor for NC Sharp, has been studying the rollout of legal sports gambling in North Carolina since the subject was first brought up. He said forcing operators to be approved by the lottery commission is a good thing for players. According to Andrews, North Carolina has allowed for 11 partners and 2 tribal sports betting apps.
"It gets the state involved from the perspective of making sure the sports books are running in the state are protecting customers -- that they pay you out when you win," Andrews said. "That is always better than unregulated."
The lottery commission said it will maintain a list of licensed interactive sports betting operators on its website. That will include the names of the operators and links to their websites. When those operators are approved, they can start registering players on March 1. However, no wager will be accepted until 12 p.m. March 11. Andrews tells ABC11, that seven companies have completed their application and are on their way to launching on March 11.
"The plan approved today means that North Carolinians will be able to place bets on their favorite teams in many of this year's college basketball conference tournaments, including men's tournaments in the ACC, Conference USA, the MEAC, and the AAC, as well as throughout the men's and women's NCAA tournaments," said Ripley Rand, chair of the commission. "Bets on sporting events have been made for as long as those events have taken place, but this time they will be legal, they will be done securely and fairly, and they will be made under rules designed to encourage responsible gaming."
The ACC Men's Basketball Tournament is scheduled to begin at noon on March 12. The NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament begins March 19, and the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament begins March 20.