North Carolina Sports Betting Moves One Step Closer to Launch

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Aug 20, 2023 12:00 AM
North Carolina sports betting now has a chief regulator.

The launch of sports betting in North Carolina has moved yet another step closer to becoming a reality. And that’s great news for their planned debut date.

In many ways, the latest North Carolina sports betting development is the most important update since Governor Roy Cooper signed legalized gambling into law on June 14, 2023. At the same time, the latest news is also the first official step in the rollout process. 

This first move? Naming an “executive director of gaming compliance and sports betting.” In layman’s terms, this will be the person responsible for guiding The Tar Heel State through the process of implementing legalized sports gambling and then effectively regulating it. Who did North Carolina choose? And will this person be able to keep the state’s sports betting launch on track for early January 2024

Sterl Carpenter Named Chief Regular of North Carolina Sports Betting

Sterl Carpenter had been floated as a candidate for this position on a number of occasions. On Wednesday, August 14, the state made it official. For anyone wondering about Carpenter’s credentials, Bill Speros of Bookies.com outlined his background shortly after the news became public: 

“Carpenter is a 30-year veteran of the gaming industry and worked to guide sports betting from its legislative inception a year ago to its launch and implementation in Massachusetts. He played a key role on the MGC staff as the Commission had to create and implement more than 225 regulations leading up to sports betting being launched in the Bay State. He's tasked with overseeing rules and regulations in accordance with HB 347.

This decision by the North Carolina State Lottery Commission, which will be the authority on all things sports betting in the state, suggests many things about how they’ll approach the next few months. Chief among those inferences: It’s clear that North Carolina means business.

Anyone who has followed the rollout of sports betting in Massachusetts knows that they have taken the regulatory process extremely seriously. With the exception of the Ohio sports betting implementation, perhaps no legal gambling launch has featured a stronger commitment to enforcing protocols and ensuring both retail and online sportsbooks are adhering to state laws. This is not hyperbole, either. A quick Google search will show you that Massachusetts sports betting fines have been a staple of their rollout process.

Knowing Carpenter had a hand in The Bay State’s approach is sure to put at least a handful of skeptics at ease. State officials, in fact, are already singing his praises. That’s no small feat given the undertaking at hand.

Why Carpenter was the Right Person for the Job

Though it’s incredibly early in the process, it sure seems like North Carolina made the right decision going with Carpenter. The Massachusetts sports betting launch he helped oversee was on the complex end. The state’s gaming catalog has a vast array of exceptions, and they also opted for a staggered rollout of retail and online sports betting services.

North Carolina’s launch poses similar challenges. After initially moving away from mobile wagering, they have decided to allow betting with the best online sportsbooks in the United States. And on top of that, they are attempting to follow an ultra-aggressive timeline for the scheduled release. 

As of now, state officials continue to hope the North Carolina sports betting launch will take place on January 8, 2024. That’s just a few short months away. And the state only just hired their chief regulator. State lottery officials have been pretty open about admitting that Carpenter is up against an ambitious task.

As North Carolina State Lottery Commision Chair Ripley Rand said: “This commission and the staff have been tasked with the enormous responsibility of licensing and regulating the newly enacted wagering activities while at the same time maintaining the quality work and highest standards of integrity with the lottery. 

The potentially eight-figures-per-year question: Will Carpenter and the rest of the North Carolina State Lottery Commission be successful?

Could the North Carolina Sports Betting Launch be Pushed Back?

Fans who want to bet on the 2023 NFL regular season are already disappointed the state won’t have legal sports gambling before the new year. But the current timeline would allow them to bet on the 2024 Super Bowl. And yet, anyone banking on that timetable might want to brace themselves for further disappointment.

While the North Carolina State Lottery Commission still plans to launch sports betting on January 8, Mr. Rand has repeatedly said they cannot actually guarantee its arrival. The state has to begin and finish the licensing process, set up an infrastructure to troubleshoot initial operations, hammer out the full scope of their regulatory procedures and do so much more.

Officials within the lottery have also been adamant that adequate time be spent educating North Carolina residents on both the merits and risks of legal sports betting. It isn’t immediately clear what that looks like, but it will certainly command time. 

That’s quite the to-do list for the newly appointed Sterl Carpenter. And that’s only what we know about. There will invariably be other details and steps we’re not privy to that must be addressed. At this writing, the initially scheduled North Carolina sports betting launch is less than five months away. Given all that needs to be done, we wouldn’t be shocked if the state moves it back. 

Of course, until North Carolina makes that call, it doesn’t matter. The fact that they remain committed to a January 8 debut, for now, could actually be a good sign. We’ll have to wait and find out.

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Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan first began writing about sports back in 2011. At the time, his expertise lied in the NBA and NFL. More than one decade, that remains the case. But he's also expanded his catalog to include extensive knowledge and analysis on the NHL, MLB, tennis, NASCAR, college ba...

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