Daily fantasy sports operators will not go gently as NC sports betting regulators work on rules that would ban their most controversial product.
Representatives from Underdog and PrizePicks were the only speakers during a North Carolina State Lottery Commission public hearing Friday on initial rules for NC sports betting. The operators are unhappy with a proposed rule prohibiting pick’em contests that mirror prop betting in North Carolina.
“The legislature could have easily adopted the exact same language that the proposed rules have in them and it chose not to do that,” Underdog General Counsel Nicholas Green said. “It chose not to do that knowing full well what the fantasy sports landscape in North Carolina was on the day of passage, in which our company and other companies like ours had been operating for years and offering fantasy contests.”
The public comment period remains open until Wednesday. The NC Lottery’s Sports Betting Committee meets again Nov. 16 and will likely finalize rules for an industry that is legally required to begin between January 8, 2024 and June 14, 2024.
Where pick’em falls in sports betting rules
Earlier this month, regulators released a draft of rules that explicitly banned the pick’em products. At the time, a representative from the Coalition for Fantasy Sports told LSR the operators were ensured inclusion in the state’s gaming industry by legislators.
Green said companies fought over the DFS definition during the legislative process earlier this year.
“The legislature expressly rejected those efforts,” Green said. “The proposed rules reflect a wish list of those folks who are on the other side in the legislative process.”
Regardless of the DFS rules, Green said Underdog will pursue one of the sports betting licenses in North Carolina.
DFS battle heats up
This month, Maine regulators fined Underdog nearly $400,000 and banned pick’em products in the state. Last week, LSR reported that a lobbyist for the Sports Betting Alliance requested an inquiry that ultimately led to cease and desist letters from the Wyoming Gaming Commission to Underdog and PrizePicks this summer.
Beyond Maine and Wyoming, regulators in numerous states ruled against pick’em products this year:
NC pick’em has ‘thousands of customers’
Along with Green, attorney Tom Lee represented PrizePicks at Friday’s hearing.
“We have hundreds of thousands of customers in this state,” Lee said. “This proposed rule says to those North Carolinians, you’re doing something wrong, you’re doing something that you should not be allowed to do, and this commission intends to stop it.”
PrizePicks, unlike Underdog, does not have stated sports betting aspirations.
Regulator quiet at NC sports betting hearing
The hearing was a chance for industry stakeholders to voice their opinions on the proposed rules.
They also can submit written comments through the NC Lottery’s website.
No one from the NC Lottery spoke at the hearing.
NC sports betting coming soon
It has not all been smooth sailing, however, as legislators threw a curveball in September, changing the law to tether online licenses to professional sports organizations in the state.
There are three tribal casinos in North Carolina with in-person sports betting.