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North Carolina Mobile Sportsbooks Will Launch Soon: Here's What to Know

David Caraviello for Bookies.com

David Caraviello  | 5 mins

North Carolina Mobile Sportsbooks Will Launch Soon: Here's What to Know

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With nearly 11 million residents, North Carolina was the fifth-most populous state in America without legal mobile sports betting. That will change now that Gov. Roy Cooper has signed a law allowing up to 12 mobile sportsbooks to operate in North Carolina.

North Carolina will prove an irresistible target to major sportsbook operators thanks to its large metro areas and deep sporting culture.

Under the terms of the North Carolina sports betting law, signed by Cooper on June 13, North Carolina would allow not just mobile wagering within its borders, but also retail sportsbooks on or near the facilities that host major sporting events, as well as at horse racing tracks. 

In addition, the Native American tribes which currently operate the state’s three retail sportsbooks can set up their own mobile sports betting infrastructure. Those licenses will not count toward the 10 to 12 mobile wagering platforms allowed in the rest of the state.

So indeed, it promises to be a new world in the Old North State now that legal sports betting has become law. The North Carolina State Lottery Commission, which will regulate sports betting in the state, has up to 12 months to begin issuing licenses.

However, the hope is that the best North Carolina betting apps will launch as early as January 8, 2024 - the date of the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.

What wagering options will sports bettors have in North Carolina, and what venues could become home to retail sportsbooks? Let’s take a look.

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Which Sportsbooks Will Launch in North Carolina?

North Carolina has a population comparable to Ohio, which launched mobile sports betting on Jan. 1, 2023. As the Buckeye State prepared for its launch, it received applications from all of the biggest names in the U.S. sports betting industry—such as FanDuel, DraftKings, Caesars Sportsbook and BetMGM. 

With up to a dozen licenses available in North Carolina, expect the state to receive applications from all of those major players in addition to other legal books such as BetRivers, Tipico, Betway, Barstool, Fanatics, bet365 and Bally Bet.

The North Carolina law also opens the door for retail sportsbooks, which can be located on the premises of a major sporting event or within a half-mile of the event. 

RELATED: Kentucky Sports Betting Regulators Targeting NFL Launch

The law very clearly spells out which sports can host retail sportsbooks: home locations of pro sports teams that compete in Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, the NBA, the NHL, the NFL and the National Women's Soccer League. That covers all of North Carolina’s current pro sports teams, and even allows for potential Major League Baseball expansion to Charlotte.

The law also allows for retail sportsbooks at or near a NASCAR facility that hosts national touring races and has a minimum seating capacity of 17,000 people—which would include Charlotte Motor Speedway, North Wilkesboro Speedway and even Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, which just makes the attendance cutoff. 

And the law allows retail sportsbooks at facilities that host pro golf tournaments with more than 50,000 live spectators, which would include the annual PGA Tour stops in Charlotte and Greensboro, as well as the 2024 U.S. Open coming to Pinehurst No. 2.

Potential Sports Betting Partners for NC Pro Teams

Less clear at the moment are the potential partnerships that could be struck between legal sportsbooks and major sports venues in the Old North State. The Charlotte Hornets of the NBA have an existing partnership with DraftKings, making that union a possibility. 

Likewise, the Carolina Panthers of the NFL and FC Charlotte of Major League Soccer—which share the same owner, and play in the same stadium—each have existing partnership agreements with Harrah’s (the operator of two Cherokee retail sportsbooks, which are owned by Caesars Entertainment).

While the Carolina Hurricanes do not list a sportsbook among their official partners, the NHL has agreements with seven sportsbooks, Betway, DraftKings, BetMGM and FanDuel among them. The National Women's Soccer League, whose North Carolina Courage play outside Raleigh, does not have a sports betting operator listed among its official partners.

Charlotte Motor Speedway also does not list a sportsbook among its official partners, though BetMGM and WynnBET are both authorized gaming partners of NASCAR. Meanwhile, golf possibilities include bet365, BetMGM, betParx, DraftKings and FanDuel, which are all gaming partners of the PGA Tour. 

The U.S. Open did not have a sports betting partner in 2023 at Los Angeles Country Club—though California also does not yet allow legal sports betting, which will likely launch in North Carolina before the U.S. Open comes to Pinehurst next year.

NC Offers Concessions for Tribal Sportsbooks

North Carolina’s sports betting law also makes concessions to the tribal entities that operate the only three retail sportsbooks in the state—Harrah's Cherokee Casino Resort and Harrah's Cherokee Valley River in western North Carolina, and Catawba Two Kings west of Charlotte. 

The tribes will be permitted to set up their own mobile sports wagering operations, which will not count toward the total number of mobile sportsbooks allowed in the state.

In addition, geolocation procedures enacted by the statewide mobile sportsbooks must ensure that users are “not present on Indian lands within the State when placing any sports wagers,” according to the text of the law. 

Tribal mobile sports betting operators must go through the same application approval process and pay the same licensing fee—$1 million for a five-year license—as the 10 to 12 applicants vying to operate statewide.

With wagering on professional, college, amateur and esports all allowed under the law, North Carolina stands to generate over $70 million in annual tax revenue by 2028, according to state estimates. 

Ohio took in over $1 billion in handle over its first two months after legal sports betting launched, although the Buckeye State allows more mobile sportsbooks than North Carolina will. Still, the potential is evident in North Carolina—would in a best-case scenario could launch right before the start of the NFL playoffs, heralding the beginning of a new age in the Old North State. 

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About the Author

David Caraviello for Bookies.com
David Caraviello
Veteran sports journalist David Caraviello has covered college football, college basketball, motorsports and golf, covering all three US golf majors, the Daytona 500 and SEC football.