Bet365 and Charlotte Hornets Team for First North Carolina Sports Betting Partnership

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In a landmark move for North Carolina sports betting, the state now has its first sportsbook-sports team partnership, as required per its new regulatory framework.

British operator bet365 confirmed late last week that it will be partnering with the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets. The Hornets play at the very same Spectrum Center stadium that, in June of this year, hosted Governor Roy Cooper as he signed the bill legalizing sports betting in the state.

This latest deal paves the way for bet365 to gain access to the upcoming North Carolina sports betting market, as well as marketing and promotion via the Hornets.

Last week, we reported on the announcement of a delay to the launch of sports betting in the Tar Heel State. Original speculation was it would be ready for a January 2024 launch. But that has now been pushed back.

“Since the day Governor Cooper signed sports wagering into law at Spectrum Center in June, we sought a partner that would help us provide our fans with new, additional opportunities to engage with their favorite sports teams,” said Jacob Gallagher, the chief revenue officer of Hornets Sports & Entertainment.

“We are confident that bet365 is a great fit with our organization and can help us do that.”

Bet365’s Expansion Continues

Under the deal, bet365’s branding will be prominently featured at Spectrum Center, and will be integrated into the team’s digital assets.

This partnership is part of bet365’s larger expansion in the United States.

The British company already has significant partnerships with other major league teams, including the Cleveland Guardians, Colorado Rockies, and the Washington Commanders.

Although sports betting in Texas is not legal and limited to offshore sportsbooks, bet365 has partnered with the San Antonio Spurs to offer a free-to-play fantasy sports game to Texan fans.

This new partnership in North Carolina shows similar intent from the company, as it looking to be the quickest out of the gate in a new market.

“Everyone at bet365 is thrilled to partner with the Hornets as we launch our iconic sports betting brand in North Carolina,” said a bet365 spokesperson.

“The Hornets’ rich and dynamic history is deeply rooted in the Queen City community, and we’re abuzz to become part of their exciting future.”

North Carolina’s Sports Betting Landscape

The bill legalizing sports betting, signed by Governor Roy Cooper, requires potential sports betting operators to reach agreements with North Carolina professional sports franchises, arenas, NASCAR tracks, or PGA tour courses.

This regulatory framework is unique among U.S. states and may have been part of the reason for the market launch delay. However, it could also result in deeply integrated retail sportsbooks in North Carolina, with multiple retail options available at major sports stadiums as well as smaller venues on a gameday basis.

However any time line for launch remains tentative. The earliest possible date is January 8, 2024, with a deadline extending as late as June 15.

The commission is in the process of drafting sports betting rules and regulations and will begin accepting sports betting license applications before finalizing a launch date.

North Carolina casinos were also debated this year as part of the state budget. Despite heavy backing from leading Republicans in the state, three proposed casino resort ideas were eventually rejected in the Senate after extensive criticism from local communities.

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