NASCAR Advocates for Rule Changes to North Carolina Sports Betting Legislation

North Carolina took a major step towards legalized sports betting this summer when Governor Roy Cooper signed legislation to allow online and retail sportsbooks in the state. The bipartisan bill, which garnered widespread support amongst legislators, paves the way for up to 12 licensed operators to offer sports wagering as early as January 2024.

However, a budget proposal introduced this week in the North Carolina legislature seeks to alter the structure of sports betting regulations in the state. According to industry sources, NASCAR has actively lobbied for specific changes that would require sportsbooks to establish formal partnerships with professional sports entities in North Carolina before gaining market access.

While NASCAR declined to comment when asked on Thursday, the proposed amendment serves the racing organization’s interests as an anchor sports property based in Charlotte. Under the updated rules, Caesars Sportsbook North Carolina, BetMGM North Carolina and other mobile operators would need a “written designation agreement” with a NASCAR track or “a governing body that sanctions more than one [NASCAR] national touring race within North Carolina.”

The budget language singles out the North Wilkesboro Speedway, which hosted this year’s NASCAR All-Star Race, as an eligible body for such a partnership. Some industry insiders view this as a blatant attempt by NASCAR to interject itself into the regulatory process for financial gain. Others believe formal business relationships between sportsbooks and leagues help drive marketing and fan engagement.

If passed, the 12-license cap would be lifted in favor of mandating these sports entity deals instead. At least 9 major racing organizations and sanctioning bodies currently meet the criteria. The officials who championed the original sports betting bill were reportedly excluded from input on this amendment.

While NASCAR ramps up its presence in the North Carolina sports betting discussion, regulators push forward with plans to launch online and retail wagering by the legislated June 2024 deadline. The North Carolina Education Lottery recently hired leadership and vendors to construct the market’s operating framework. “The Commission’s objective is to ensure that sports gaming is established in an appropriate manner,” a Lottery spokesperson reinforced this week.

Gaming experts hope politics and red tape don’t derail North Carolina’s sports betting launch timeline given massive consumer demand. Once live, top mobile operators like Caesars Sportsbook and BetMGM will unleash bespoke promotions featuring North Carolina sports betting apps, North Carolina sports betting promo codes and North Carolina-centric marketing.

The potential sportsbook feeding frenzy in North Carolina stems from intense fandom surrounding college programs like the Tar Heels and Blue Devils plus Panthers mania at the pro level. NASCAR boasts a deeply loyal regional following as stock car racing was born in North Carolina.

All of this makes North Carolina an extremely attractive market for sportsbook operators. Established gaming brands Caesars and MGM want to leverage their loyalty programs and mobile technology to capture North Carolinian bettors from the outset. Upstart operators see a major growth opportunity as well, provided the regulatory environment empowers competition.

While lobbying efforts like NASCAR’s could reshape the playing field, North Carolina remains a “tier 1” opportunity for the sports betting industry. With over 10 million residents, neighboring state restrictions, and passion for local sports, North Carolina checks every box for operators and savvy bettors alike.

Questions linger on tax rates, license costs and whether legislators will limit the number of entities allowed to take bets. But the legislative momentum behind sports wagering in North Carolina remains decidedly positive.

Both lawmakers and voters see online and retail sports betting as a revenue generator that also satiates customer demand in the digital age. Like casinos and lottery before it, North Carolina appears poised to embrace sports betting legislation with the potential to uplift communities and modernize entertainment.

As political wrangling over the budget and rules continues in the background, North Carolina residents can expect a jam-packed sports betting market to open shop in 2024 pending final legislative approval. That means competitive sign-up offers, innovative betting platforms and big money backing the state’s sportsbook operators.

While NASCAR jockeys to steer policy in its favor, this much remains clear – the dawn of legal sports betting in North Carolina is near. By this time next year, Caesars Sportsbook promos, BetMGM bonuses and many more could be front and center for Tar Heel bettors.

✅ Fact Checked on January 17, 2024 by Ken Weaver