As North Carolina moves closer to launching online sports betting, two tribal applicants have thrown their hats into the ring, even though official launch dates remain undetermined.

During a recent meeting, the North Carolina State Lottery Commission revealed the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the Catawba Nation submitted applications for online sports betting licenses. While these tribes can participate under state law, they are separate from the 11 sportsbook licenses linked to professional sports teams and venues.

Regulators did not outline a target launch date but reiterated initial applicants must meet Certificate of Compliance requirements by January 26th. Governor Roy Cooper hopes to launch in time for March Madness betting in the state. A mid-June deadline is also in place.

Regarding potential North Carolina sportsbook apps, the tribes already run three casino-based sportsbooks. In-person sports betting launched at state casinos in 2019. By applying past the December 27th recommendation, the tribes risk missing opening day for mobile betting. This comes from Sterl Carpenter, a deputy director at the NC Lottery overseeing gaming compliance.

The Cherokee Indians manage two Caesars Sportsbooks at North Carolina’s Harrah’s Cherokee Casinos. Caesars applied for a vendor license instead of an operator license to supply the tribe’s sportsbooks. The existing sportsbook at the Catawba Two Kings Casino near Charlotte offers another in-state option.

For North Carolina sports betting launch, the commission approved a Certificate of Compliance process and recommended testing labs. This certification is mandatory for any sportsbook launch.

Currently, nine applicants vie for a North Carolina sports betting license, including:

  • Catawba Two Kings Casino
  • Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (Caesars partner)
  • Bet365 (Charlotte Hornets partner)
  • BetMGM (Charlotte Motor Speedway partner)
  • DraftKings (NASCAR partner)
  • ESPN Bet (Quail Hollow partner)
  • Fanatics (Carolina Hurricanes partner)
  • FanDuel (PGA Tour partner)
  • Underdog

Eighteen other operators also requested market access applications. This leaves potential partnerships open involving:

  • Carolina Panthers
  • Charlotte FC
  • NC Courage
  • North Wilkesboro Speedway
  • Sedgefield Country Club

As launch nears, major players line up for a share of the North Carolina sports betting market. But even tribal casino apps face uncertainty on start dates. Officials continue working towards launch while awaiting final approval and certification.

✅ Fact Checked on January 27, 2024 by Ken Weaver