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North Carolina awards online sports betting licenses to eight operators ahead of March 11 launch

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Eight sports betting companies secured licenses from North Carolina regulators on Thursday, allowing them to start accepting wagers from state residents through mobile devices and computers in less than two weeks.

The North Carolina State Lottery Commission, responsible for overseeing the state's nascent sports betting market, announced the successful initial applicants for interactive sports wagering operator licenses yesterday.

These licensees will be permitted to begin accepting wagers starting at noon on March 11, just before the Atlantic Coast Conference men’s basketball tournament kicks off. Individuals aged 21 and over can start registering with operators, setting up accounts, and making deposits as of noon on Friday.

Commission Chair Ripley Rand hailed the license issuance as "a major milestone" in establishing legal sports betting in North Carolina.

Initially, seven licensees were announced on Thursday, including BetMGM, Underdog Sports, FanDuel Sportsbook, DraftKings, Fanatics Sportsbook, bet365, and ESPN BET. Later that same day, an entity associated with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians was added to the list of approved licensees.

An application associated with the Catawba Indian Nation, which similarly to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians already provides in-person sports gambling at its casino, located west of Charlotte, also has been turned in, according to the commission. However, no updates on licensing have been provided.

The new law allows for in-person betting beyond casinos, but this aspect of the legislation will not be implemented immediately. Successful operators were required to enter into agreements with in-state professional teams, pro golf or auto racing venues, or governing bodies to apply for their permits, some of which have already been made public.

North Carolina is poised to become the 30th state, along with the District of Columbia, to offer mobile sports betting, a development anticipated to generate over $100 million in annual revenue within five years, according to legislative analysis. Taxation is set at 18% of each licensee's gross gaming revenue.

The launch date for sports betting was set following the enactment of House Bill 347 by Governor Roy Cooper last year. In addition to the operator licenses, officials have also issued sports wagering supplier’s permits to companies including GeoComply, SBTech and Sportradar.

A voluntary self-exclusion program was approved by the Commission earlier this month, part of North Carolina's efforts to address problem gambling. Players can submit a voluntary self-exclusion enrolment form on the Commission’s website, choosing to self-exclude for one year, three years, five years, or for their lifetime.

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