North Carolina Sports Betting Set for March 11 Launch

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North Carolina has finally announced an official date for its upcoming legal sports betting market.

Sportsbooks in North Carolina will open for bets on March 11 at midday, as confirmed by regulator the North Carolina Lottery Commission in a meeting on Wednesday this week.

Initially, the state had hoped to launch in time for the football betting rush during February’s Super Bowl. However, regulatory delays saw it confirmed last year that it wouldn’t be ready in time for the flagship NFL game.

However, North Carolina fans of 21 years or older will be able to get their basketball betting in during the March Madness season. Legal betting will begin in time for the ACC men’s basketball conference tournament, which begins on March 12. The tournament includes three North Carolina college teams, Duke University, North Carolina State, and the University of North Carolina.

“In a few short months, we’ve built our infrastructure,” said Sterl Carpenter, the commission’s deputy executive director of gaming compliance and sports wagering.

“We’ve put together a regulatory framework from scratch, and we assembled the team. To be sure, there is still much to do.”

Preparations for Launch

As the start date approaches, the North Carolina State Lottery Commission has confirmed that licensed online sports betting operators in the state are authorized to begin accepting wagers.

However, exactly which sportsbooks will be available is still subject to approval. All is going as expected for the operators that have announced their applications so far. North Carolina will see seven operators open for preregistration on March 1.

Those operators are bet365, BetMGM, DraftKings, ESPN Bet, Fanatics Sportsbook, FanDuel, and Underdog Fantasy, all pending final regulatory approval. Two further operators are expected to be in discussion, but have not confirmed their plans.

Caesars Sportsbook, via the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and the Catawba Indian Nation have also applied, with their status uncertain. Caesars and the Cherokee jointly operate three tribal North Carolina casinos, which have offered retail sports betting since 2021.

“With this proposed authorization, we are telling the public that we are ready for sports wagering. It’s up to our operator applicants to meet the requirements set by the General Assembly and this commission,” Carpenter said at Wednesday’s meeting.

 Sports Partnerships Required

To complicate applications for sportsbooks, operators are required to partner with a professional sports team, venue, or league in the state.

However, this unique arrangement among U.S. sports betting markets will also add opportunities for collaboration and innovation, as well as the convenience of North Carolina retail sportsbooks inside stadium complexes.

These partnerships are already taking shape, with all seven announced in recent months.

Debut sportsbook Underdog secured a deal with McConnell Golf, DraftKings landed a partnership with NASCAR, ESPN Bet with Quail Hollow Club, FanDuel with the PGA Tour, and BetMGM is backed by Charlotte Motor Speedway. British operator Bet365 has joined forces with the Charlotte Hornets, and Fanatics Sportsbook has inked a partnership with the Carolina Hurricanes.

Caesars Sportsbook will be exempt from this requirement to partner with a sports org, as it is expected to be licensed via its long standing partnership with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians

Market Potential

The legalization and commencement of online sports betting in North Carolina was made possible through House Bill 347. It was signed into law in June 2023 by Governor Roy Cooper at Charlotte’s Spectrum Center, home to the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets.  

This legislative move could potentially generate an estimated $1 billion in additional tax revenue for the state within the first five years of authorized sports betting.

In 2023, about 68 million people wagered approximately $15.5 billion nationally during the NCAA’s March Madness basketball tournament betting season.

The potential innovative partnerships between the many major sports leagues and teams in North Carolina and betting operators could see a market that joins the biggest U.S. markets of the eastern seaboard, like New Jersey and New York sports betting.

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