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North Carolina Tar Heels fans cheer during the game against the Appalachian State Mountaineers at Kenan Memorial Stadium, and we outline FanDuel's entrance into North Carolina through its partnership with the PGA Tour.
North Carolina Tar Heels fans cheer during the game against the Appalachian State Mountaineers at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images via AFP.

North Carolina sports betting regulators have once again pushed back the date for a potential launch as residents of the state are still unable to access our best sportsbooks.

On Wednesday, the North Carolina Lottery Commission broke some bad news for potential sports bettors in the state — North Carolina sports betting apps won't be active until after the Super Bowl on Feb. 11. It means that North Carolina bettors will officially miss out on the entirety of the bread-and-butter NFL season.

“We know people are excited. One question I know I have gotten a number of times … is whether sports betting will be up and running in time for the Super Bowl,” said Lottery Commission Chairman Ripley Rand. “While the commission is committed to making sports betting available in an effective manner as quickly as we can, with all the remaining work to be done, that unfortunately won’t be the case.”

The Commission had initially targeted Jan. 8 as the earliest possible date for a legal North Carolina sports betting platform to go live. Lawmakers did, however, give themselves some wiggle room, citing June 15, 2024, as the last possible date for the platform to go live.

With the Super Bowl, the biggest betting day on the U.S. calendar, not possible, regulators in the Tar Heel State will be looking to March Madness as the jumping-off point for what promises to be a busy sports wagering scene.

No official launch date was announced at Wednesday's meeting.

The hold-up

Regulators of the North Carolina legal sports betting industry all but admitted that their goal of a quick launch was unrealistic. There is too much work to do before the platform is ready, so residents must wait longer before taking advantage of North Carolina sportsbook promos.

The Commission met Wednesday and unanimously approved the licensing application process for hopeful sports betting providers. It will likely be Monday before that process is up and running, and the application window will be open until Dec. 27.

The Commission will need time to comb over applications and form a list of successful applicants that will go live in the first quarter of 2024. At least 60 days will be needed to fulfill all vetting requirements.

More on the application process discussed

Although it is disappointing to hear the news about the pushback of the legal sports betting launch date, at least the Commission could set rules around the application process for prospective wagering providers.

Applicants can visit ncgaming.gov to find their application as early as the end of this week or the beginning of next week.

Those applicants will be expected to have an agreement with North Carolina’s professional sports teams and major venues, where retail sports wagering will commence at the same time as mobile.

It is also expected that hopeful providers will offer applications consisting of a thousand or more pages of documentation. With hundreds of applications expected, it is easy to see why it will take time for the Commission to settle on a group of providers for the Tar Heel State legal sports betting scene.

"Sports betting is highly regulated, and like in other states, North Carolina will have high expectations and strict requirements for licensees,” Ripley Rand said.

So, when already?

While the Commission gave no firm date when we can expect North Carolina sports betting to launch, Wednesday's news allows us to read a few tea leaves. 

It appears as though legal sports betting is on track for a March launch. That date would facilitate wagering on American soil's second-biggest sports betting event annually and perhaps the most anticipated sporting event in the basketball-crazed Tar Heel State, March Madness.

Chairman Rand wrapped up his Wednesday comments by saying: “We’ll set that date when we know how many applicants we have for licenses, when we complete the initial rulemaking process for sports betting, when we’ve completed background checks on the applicants and their key individuals, when we’ve approved provisional licenses for suppliers and when we’ve made sure that licenses operators have proposed internal controls that are robust and compliant and that their key equipment and software have all be certified by an independent testing laboratory.”