The North Carolina Lottery Commission has decided to put the potential powder keg of daily fantasy sports definitions on hold in the state so  it can focus on successfully launching sports betting in 2024.

The commission unanimously approved the state’s first set of sports betting rules this afternoon, but not before it stripped away any mentions of daily fantasy sports (DFS) competitions from the regulations.

Lottery commission representatives explained that it would focus on the task of launching sports betting by June 15, 2024, before tackling the complicated issues of daily fantasy sports competitions.

Focusing on sports betting launch

Last month, the commission introduced North Carolina’s first set of sports betting rules and regulations, which included a section on DFS that limited what operators could offer in the Tar Heel State.

While DFS is currently offered and legal in North Carolina, the state legislature has yet to pass any specific rules or regulations for the industry.

Included in the rules were a number of prohibitions on fantasy sports contests, including one that specifically banned contests “based on proposition wagering or contests that involve, result in, or have the effect of mimicking proposition wagering or other forms of sports wagering.”

This was similar wording to rules passed in other states that have banned DFS pick ’em games. New York, Maine, Michigan, Colorado, Arizona, and Florida have all recently taken action to limit or ban these DFS games.

Pick ‘Em style DFS games involve customers playing against the house and making over-under type selections on a combination of statistical outcomes for athletes. Underdog Fantasy and PrizePicks, two popular DFS operators, both offer Pick ‘Em style DFS games in North Carolina.

The commission opened up the approved rules to public comment in late October. According to Billy Traurig, chief legal officer of the North Carolina Lottery Commission, public comment on the DFS section of the approved rules was “split down the middle.”

A decision was made to put the rules on hold for the time being. Additional time is necessary, he said, for the commission to evaluate its duties and responsibilities to “fantasy contests” and “fantasy games,” if any, and how it defines such contests.

North Carolina DFS rules and definitions on hold

Traurig said the commission would remove the DFS rules and definitions from the sports betting rules packet in order for the Lottery Commission to focus purely on the upcoming North Carolina sports betting launch.

The state must launch sports betting no earlier than Jan. 8, 2024, and no later than June 15, 2024.

The commission will monitor how other states are handling the DFS rules and regulations, Traurig said, and may take action at a future date. He also noted that the commission may choose to not pursue this matter any further and leave DFS in the state as is.