DraftKings and BetMGM have struck market access agreements in North Carolina ahead of the Tarheel State launching its legal sports betting market.

Both arrangements cover sports wagering in North Carolina. DraftKings will partner with stock-car racing series Nascar and BetMGM the Charlotte Motor Speedway in the state.

Under DraftKings’ deal with Nascar, the operator becomes the series’ exclusive daily fantasy sports partner in the US and Canada. DraftKings will also be an authorised gaming operator of NASCAR and secure additional sponsorship benefits across Nascar.

Subject to regulatory and licence approvals, North Carolina will become the 27th US state in which DraftKings is active. This comes after it also secured approval in Vermont last month.

“DraftKings and Nascar have collaborated closely with each other over the years, sharing a like-minded commitment to enhancing the fan experience,” DraftKings’ North America president, Matt Kalish, said. “We look forward to the next chapter in our journey together and offering our leading mobile sportsbook to fans in the state of North Carolina.”

Nascar’s managing director for sports betting, Joe Solosky, added: “DraftKings has a proven track record of enhancing the fan experience across sports. We are thrilled to continue working with DraftKings to deliver Nascar fans more engagement opportunities and bring its leading mobile sportsbook to North Carolina.”

Local partner for BetMGM

As for BetMGM, the MGM Resorts-Entain joint venture will work with the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Located in Concord, North Carolina, the complex regularly hosts Nascar racing.

BetMGM also said its planned launch hinges on regulatory and licence approval in the state. The operator added that it expects the North Carolina market to open before the end of Q1.

“BetMGM’s partnership with Charlotte Motor Speedway meets a great demand for entertainment from North Carolinians,” BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt said. “Together. we will deliver a premier and responsible gaming product that benefits many state agencies.”

Charlotte Motor Speedway executive vice-president and general manager Greg Walter also welcomed the partnership. He said: “With Charlotte Motor Speedway’s history of innovation, we wanted to move forward into this new era of sports entertainment with a progressive sportsbook.

“This partnership with BetMGM will bring sports fans new ways to enjoy their favourite events while expanding North Carolina’s tax base, supporting colleges and facilitating recruitment of major events for the future.”

North Carolina edges closer to legal sports betting launch

As stated by BetMGM, it is hoped that North Carolina could commence legal sports betting within the next few months. However, an official launch date has not yet been announced, despite governor Roy Cooper signing House Bill 347 into law in June, officially legalising wagering.

In December, the North Carolina State Lottery Commission approved applications for sports betting licensure. This meant operators were able to begin applying for licences in the state.

While this took the state closer to launching legal betting, Commission chair Ripley Rand said actually opening the market will depend on a number of factors. Primarily, this will hinge on how long the application process takes.

Rand said the Commission will need to review all applications and supporting information. It will also need to complete background checks and analyse all internal control details before it can set a launch date.

The Commission has 60 days to review each application and operators have 10 days to make any changes flagged.

With both DraftKings and BetMGM securing market access, this suggests the mooted Q1 launch date could be accurate. Last month, ESPN Bet also linked up with the PGA Tour to roll out its offering in North Carolina.

Fanatics and FanDuel Group are also among the major brands said to be seeking a licence in the state.

What about the rules?

Against the background of these market access agreements remains infected by something of an air of uncertainty. The state is yet to agree on a final set of sports betting rules.

Certain measures were set out in the bill that was signed off last spring. These include bets being permitted across college sports, esports and other sports matches authorised by the Commission.

Tax is set at 18% of each licence holder’s gross gaming revenue. This was previously 14% but was later amended in the senate.

There is also a stipulation whereby operators must have a written designation agreement with a sports team, league or venue in order to launch sports betting.

An initial set of rules published in October also included a ban on pick’em-style daily fantasy sports (DFS) games.

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