North Carolina PNC Arena Sportsbook a Possibility

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The PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina (pictured), could be one of the first venues to host a sportsbook in the state.

North Carolina governor Roy Cooper fully legalized sports betting in the state this July, signing the bill during a ceremony at the Spectrum Cente sports stadium in Charlotte.

Now, a new plan to revamp the 24-year-old PNC Arena, home to the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, looks likely to include a legal, retail sportsbook venue. Late last week, developers submitted plans to the Centennial Authority Committee in Raleigh regarding the development.

The new state legislation grants access to retail betting licenses to sports facilities that are home to NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, MLS, or NWSL teams, golf tournaments attracting 50,000 or more spectators, or speedways that annually host more than one NASCAR event.

However, these retail licenses are not tied to any of the 12 online licenses, creating a unique dynamic in the United States sports betting landscape.

North Carolina sports betting was already technically available at two retail books since 2021, but only at tribal casinos on sovereign land owned by the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians.

PNC Arena Upgrades

PNC Arena, home to the Carolina Hurricanes, is set to be one of the first venues to host a sportsbook.

The arena’s management, Gale Force Sports & Entertainment, has partnered with a yet-to-be-named sportsbook operator to bring this plan to fruition. The sportsbook will be located in the south end of the arena, with a bar and restaurant also planned as part of the improvements.

“We know that the enhancement and the elaborate process we’re getting ready to undertake is going to continue to make this building great for a long time,” said Centennial Committee chairman Philip Isley, speaking to WRAL News.

Retail Books Face Challenges

The introduction of sports betting in North Carolina is expected to have a significant impact on the state’s sports teams.

Attracting bettors to a retail sportsbook when they can bet from nearly anywhere on their mobile devices is a daunting proposition. Across the U.S., online sports betting revenues dominate that of their physical counterparts, with some states seeing up to 85% market share for online operators.

In theory, the high visibility of a retail sportsbook at a venue like PNC Arena could attract newer players in sports betting. But in practice, other factors are often as important, if not moreso, than proximity to a sports venue.

That’s something BetMGM found out with its Great American Ballpark sportsbook in Cincinnati, Ohio, which is soon to be relocated, and NASCAR, who had Penn Entertainment pull the plug on its proposed Barstool Sportsbook venue at the Phoenix Raceway in Arizona.

Good Problems to Have

The North Carolina State Lottery Commission, responsible for licensing and regulating sports betting, will consider various factors when reviewing applicants.

Among these factors is the applicant’s plan to open and operate a retail location.

Only the teams, PGA Tour hosts, and speedways can offer these, which could potentially provide them negotiating leverage with operators.

As well as the newly announced plan for a PNC Arena sportsbook, potential options include the Spectrum Center, where Governor Cooper signed the legalization bill last month, and the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

However, the more established operators with strong track records and larger market shares may feel they can succeed on their own. Others may see a team tie as a need, rather than simply a want. The teams and facilities will likely go to market with varied propositions that yield different results.

“Finding the right partner across multiple properties here in the state will be a lot of work. But it’s a good problem to have,” said Vice President of Gaming Relations for the PGA Tour Scott Warfield, speaking to Sports Business Journal.

North Carolina betting licenses will cost $1 million each for any prospective sportsbook operator, and they will pay an 18% flat tax on gross gaming revenue.

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