The North Carolina State Lottery Commission's (NCSLC) Sports Betting Committee has published its proposed sports betting rules – which would include a ban on pick'em-style daily fantasy sports (DFS) games.
The state’s Sports Betting Committee instigated the rulemaking process on the proposed rules on 17 October. It also opened up a process to accept public comments on the rules, which will close on 1 November.
Sports betting was officially legalised in North Carolina after its governor, Roy Cooper, signed House Bill 347 into law in June. This came after a number of attempts to bring sports betting to the Tar Heel State, which had increased in the months leading up to the June signing.
The bill stipulated that North Carolina had to publish its sports betting regulations before 8 January 2024. The state must also authorise all sports betting operators to start taking wagers by 14 June 2024.
Now, North Carolina joins a number of recent states – including New York – in turning focus to pick’em DFS games. The New York State Gaming Commission banned DFS pick-em-style games earlier this month, despite opposition from Underdog Fantasy and PrizePicks.
If North Carolina’s pick’em ban moves forward unchallenged, the games will also be banned in the state.
What does this mean for operators in NC?
North Carolina’s proposed regulations state that fantasy contests comprise of “fantasy or simulated games or contests in which one or more fantasy contest players compete and winning outcomes reflect the relative knowledge and skill of the fantasy contest players”.
The games, it continues, “are determined predominantly by accumulated statistical results of the performance of individuals, including athletes in the case of sporting events”.
This means that DFS operators like Underdog Fantasy – which is available in North Carolina – could have difficulty continuing to operate there when sports betting is launched.
But the Coalition for Fantasy Sports, a group representing Underdog Fantasy, PrizePicks and Sleeper, is reported to have said that North Carolina’s state legislature ensured fantasy sports could still be offered in the state.
“The legislature ensured that our contests would continue to be offered as fantasy sports when it passed its sports wagering bill just a few months ago,” said the coalition. “We are confident that the Lottery Commission will reach common sense rules that reflect the letter and spirit of that bill.
“We look forward to participating as stakeholders in the rulemaking process, just as we worked alongside the legislators this past session to protect fantasy sports that North Carolinians have played for years.”
What does the proposed ban not include?
In the proposed measures, the NCSLC said the proposed ban does not include five types of games. These include games based on proposition wagering that mimics other forms of sports wagering and instances where a person submits a fantasy team comprising a single person or an entire “real-world” team.
The ban would also not include games where the player can choose whether an athlete – or one “real-world” team – will go beyond a stipulated statistical achievement, including points scored.