North Carolina authorizes online sports betting to begin on eve of men’s ACC basketball tournament

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Legal online sports betting in North Carolina is poised to begin in March, state gambling regulators decided Wednesday, setting the start date for the eve of the region’s beloved Atlantic Coast Conference men’s basketball tournament.

Members of the state lottery commission, which was tasked by the General Assembly last year to license sports gambling operators, voted unanimously to set noon March 11 as the time in which sports betting can commence on mobile devices and computers.

The ACC Tournament begins in Washington on March 12, with the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments to start the following week.

When sports betting is up and running statewide, anyone 21 or older can make bets on pro, college or Olympic-style sports. But the opening date certainly emphasizes the importance of college basketball in North Carolina, where four ACC schools are located and the men’s tournament began in the 1950s.

“Bets on sporting events have been made for as long as those events have taken place, but this time they will be legal, they will be done securely and fairly, and they will be made under rules designed to encourage responsible gaming,” commission Chair Ripley Rand said in a news release.

Nine entities have applied with the commission to take bets in the state, the commission has said. Those applicants must receive a certificate of compliance in order to offer betting on their online platforms. Application reviews are continuing.

Starting March 1, betting customers can create new accounts and deposit money with a licensed operator that has obtained a certificate. That will give the public time to choose between competing operators on their betting terms and get used to online interface and responsible gambling features, Sterl Carpenter, a commission executive overseeing sports gambling, told commission members.

The 2023 law approved by the state legislature and signed by North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said sports gambling could begin no later than June 15. It also authorized in-person sports gambling at approved sportsbooks and parimutuel betting on horse racing. but neither will start in March. The in-person betting will begin on a “case‐by‐case basis” as interested operators meet requirements, according to Carpenter.

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