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North Carolina Sports Betting Updates: $659.3 Million Handle In March

Bill Speros for Bookies.com

Bill Speros  | 14 mins

North Carolina Sports Betting Updates: $659.3 Million Handle In March

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The eight online North Carolina betting sites generated nearly $660 million in handle from legal wagering statewide in March, the State Lottery Commission announced Tuesday. 

Those operators combined for a handle of $659,308,541 after sports betting went live statewide on March 11, and they paid out $590,750,303  in winnings. That left $66,496,213 in revenue for the state's sportsbooks. 

Sports betting generated roughly $11.96 million in tax revenue for the state in March. Online operators are taxed at an 18% rate by the state on their net revenues. 

The sports betting operators approved to take wagers statewide in North Carolina are: 

North Carolina's handle for the 22 days of betting in March topped the handle from Massachusetts' debut a year ago. That state launched mobile betting on March 10, 2023. Massachusetts was said to be the best comp for North Carolina, said Deputy Executive Director Gaming Compliance and Sports Betting Sterl Carpenter. When Carpenter held a similar position with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, the Bay State generated nearly $550 million in handle in March of 2023.

March Madness played a major role in boosting North Carolina's handle, as did $202.6 million in promo spend by the books and their customers. 

In the 12 hours on Day 1 of betting on March 11, the state's handle was $23.945 million and the revenue for the state's legal betting operators stood at 11.030 million.

Wagering Underway Across North Carolina 

The eight sports books began taking wagers at a frenetic pace once wagering began, as noted in the pin-drop image above. 

DraftKings has partnered with NASCAR to operates its book in North Carolina. Former Panthers TE and current NFL on Fox analyst Greg Olsen made the book's ceremonial first bet in the Tar Heel State. Olsen wagered $100 on Bubba Wallace to win the NASCAR Series Cup championship. Wallace is currently +4000. 

Fanatics partnered with the Carolina Hurricanes. The book has signage at the PNC Arena in Raleigh and plans to have a launch party nearby Monday night. 

Meanwhile, Caesars on March 1 also began accepting online wagers on Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians lands through its arrangement with the tribe. It is the first site to take online wagers in the state. This was possible because of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The app is also accepting sports bets at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in Cherokee, NC, and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel in Murphy.

The Commission received nine applications for sports betting licenses. Caesars has been approved as a service operator, along with theScore and SDSV Limited.

Sports betting in North Carolina began ahead of March Madness, a goal set by Gov. Roy Cooper. Nine applicants are vying for sports betting licenses in the Tar Heel State. 

'A Major Milestone' In North Carolina

Those 21 and over who have established accounts with a licensed operator can use their phone or electronic device to place sports wagers on their mobile devices.

The Commission said it expects to approve additional licenses in the future. 

"In a few short months, we've built our infrastructure from scratch and assembled our team," Carpenter said on January 24. 

December 27 was the deadline to submit applications for consideration for the initial to-be-determined launch date. A total of 17 books sought applications. 

Rand and Carpenter have stressed the role that would-be operators play in this process, saying that the strength of the applications and relevant information (such as that needed for background checks) will ultimately determine a launch date. 

Gov. Cooper Sought March Madness Launch

Cooper told the Ovies and Giglio OG Live Podcast on December 21 that adjustments made to the sports betting law by the legislature during the budgeting process forced the Commission to "have to re-do some things" before adding "this rule-making has to work." Cooper also said he met with regulators  and was "pushing them, saying 'we've got to get this done.'" 

Cooper voiced his desire to have North Carolina online sports betting begin by the time the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament starts on March 19. Selection Sunday falls on St. Patrick's Day, March 17.

"The goal is to get it out there by March Madness. No guarantee that that's the case. I think that is the goal," Cooper said. 

The Tar Heel failed to launch in time for Super Bowl 58, which was won 25-22 by the Kansas City Chiefs in overtime. 

Operators & Partners   

Sportsbook operators needed a "written designation agreement" with a professional sports team, and the owners of certain big-league sports venues. the PGA Tour or NASCAR before being licensed. 

Only then can the Commission was able to approve "interactive sports wagering operators." 

Here's a look at the books that have announced deals and their partners. These deals are all contingent on the operators being granted licenses by the state. 

ESPN BET North Carolina (through its parent PENN Entertainment) and Quail Hollow Club, which plays host to the Wells Fargo Championship on the PGA Tour. (It's likely ESPN BET will sponsor that PGA Tour stop once the current deal with Wells Fargo ends.) 

DraftKings North Carolina and NASCAR

BetMGM North Carolina and Charlotte Motor Speedway

Bet365 North Carolina and the NBA's Charlotte Hornets 

Fanatics North Carolina and the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes

FanDuel North Carolina and the PGA Tour 

Underdog Sports and McConnell Golf/Sedgefield Country Club

The tribe is not required to form any partnership. The remaining would-be operators may enter into written designation agreements including the NC Courage of the NWSL, the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, MLS franchise FC Charlotte, Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, Charlotte Motor Speedway, North Wilkesboro Speedway, and NASCAR.

Brooklyn-based Underdog Sports is a fantasy sports site. Underdog currently operates and offers fantasy sports products in 33 states. North Carolina has no plans to approve fantasy play any time soon. Underdog is licensed in Ohio to operate a sportsbook but has yet to launch there. 

Rules, Catalog Take Next Steps

Thus far, 14 companies have been approved as sports betting wagering suppliers. They include: 

  • SportContentCo, LLC 
  • SIS Content Services, Inc.
  • Swish Analytics North Carolina, Inc.
  • Idology, Inc.
  • LexisNexis Risk Solutions FL, Inc.
  • International Betting Integrity Association

Carpenter came to North Carolina from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. There, mobile betting began last year on March 10, just ahead of the NCAA Tournament. 

The launch date in North Carolina comes one year and one day later. 

The sports betting catalog was approved earlier in November. It mirrors events offered in most other legal jurisdictions. He and Rand have stressed the steps necessary for operators to be approved, which include testing all their betting-related software, geolocation technology, each operator's house rules, and multiple other items. 

The full North Carolina Lottery Commission voted to approve an amended set of 64 pages of rules to govern legal sports and parimutuel wagering, and the proposed sports betting catalog on November 16. 

It also formally voted to table any consideration of Fantasy Sports in North Carolina for the foreseeable future, "if at all." 

"That means we are on track to meet our statutory deadline," Carpenter said when the rules were first posted on October 17.

North Carolina Sports Betting Timeline

  • 📅 April 16, 2024: Lottery Commission says state generated $659,308,541 in handle during March.
  • 📅 March 11, 2024: Mobile, legal, online sportsbetting begins at 12 noon.
  • 📅 March 1, 2024: Operators begin pre-registration of customers. 
  • 📅 Feb. 29, 2024: 7 Operators Are Granted Certificates of Operation: ESPNBET, Bet365, BetMGM, FanDuel, DraftKings, Fanatics, and Underdog Sports.
  • 📅 Feb. 13, 2024: A Meredith Poll reveals that 57% of North Carolina voters support the expansion of online casino gaming in the state.
  • 📅 Jan. 30: Caesars officially announces its plans to expand to online betting in North Carolina.
    📅 Jan. 24: Sports betting will begin on March 11 and pre-registration starts on March 1.
  • 📅 Jan. 10: Tribal Casino Gaming Enterprise Cherokee and Catawba Two Kings Casino have applied for sports betting licenses, bringing the total to 9
  • 📅 Dec. 29, 2023: 7 operators and 7 service providers apply for North Carolina sports betting licenses. The books are BetMGM, bet365, DraftKings, ESPN BET, FanDuel, Fanatics and Underdog Sports
  • 📅 Dec. 21: Gov. Cooper expects North Carolina betting apps to launch in time for March Madness
  • 📅 Dec. 15: Fanatics will partner with the Carolina Hurricanes
  • 📅 Dec. 13: Fourteen operators have requested sports betting license applications
  • 📅 Dec. 7: FanDuel partners with the PGA Tour in North Carolina.
  • 📅 Dec. 5: ESPN BET announces a partnership with Charlotte golf course Quail Hollow Club.
  • 📅  November 29: Application deadline set for Dec. 27, with a 60-day period to review each applicant. 
  • 📅  November 17: Bet365 and Charlotte Hornets announce sponsorship deal, the first step necessary for the sportsbook to operate in North Carolina.
  • 📅  November 17: The public comment period closes on a revised set of sports betting and parimutuel wagering rules proposed by the Sports Betting Committee.
  • .📅  November 16: The Lottery Commission approves an amended set of betting rules for public comment, the proposed Sports Betting Catalog, and formally passes on including Fantasy Sports in North Carolina until further notice.
  • .📅  November 7: The Sports Betting Committee posts updated rules for governing sports betting and parimutuel wagering.
  • 📅  October 27: The Sports Betting Committee holds a public hearing to discuss the rules governing sports betting.
  • 📅  October 17: A set of proposed rules governing sports betting and parimutuel wagering is approved for posting by the Sports Betting Committee.
  • 📅  October 2: State budget takes effect that changes the licensing process for sportsbooks and eliminates a cap on the number of books allowed.
  • 📅  September 27: North Carolina State Lottery forms Sports Betting Committee.
  • 📅  August 31:  North Carolina State Lottery hires Gaming Laboratories Inc. to assist with the launch of North Carolina sports betting.
  • 📅  July 31: The North Carolina State Lottery Commission names Sterl Carpenter as executive director of gaming compliance and sports betting
  • 📅  June 14: Governor Cooper signed HB 347 into law; the bill allows for up to 12 mobile sportsbooks, which could launch as soon as January 8, 2024. The latest NC sports betting can launch is June 14, 2024.
  • 📅  June 7: The House votes 68-45 to concur with the Senate's changes to HB 347. The bill now awaits the signature of Gov. Cooper.
  • 📅  September 22, 2022: A $30 billion budget clears the state House and Senate that includes language stripping away the power to initially allow sports betting operators from the N.C. State Lottery Commission.

RELATED: Check out the North Carolina Betting Promos currently available.

Carpenter is a 30-year veteran of the gaming industry and worked to guide sports betting from its legislative inception a year ago to its launch and implementation in Massachusetts. He played a key role on the MGC staff as the Commission had to create and implement more than 225 regulations leading up to sports betting being launched in the Bay State. Carpenter is tasked with overseeing rules and regulations by HB 347, which Gov. Roy Cooper signed into law on June 14. 

HB 347 calls for the North Carolina State Lottery Commission to oversee online sports betting, statewide retail sports betting off Indian lands, and parimutuel wagering on horse racing. This includes North Carolina betting apps. 

“This commission and the staff have been tasked with the enormous responsibility of licensing and regulating the newly enacted wagering activities while at the same time maintaining the quality work and highest standards of integrity with the lottery,” North Carolina State Lottery Commission Chair Ripley Rand said. 

The Commission has created a North Carolina sports betting website to educate residents on both the progress and details of how sports betting will work, where the money will go, and information on responsible gaming.  

"Many people want to know when North Carolina will begin permitting legal sports betting. The commission and staff take these responsibilities seriously and are committed to ensuring the job is done in a complete, professional, transparent, and timely manner. We will keep the public up to date about when these programs will launch," Rand added. 

Sports Betting Now Legal In North Carolina

 HB 347 allows online and retail betting off Native American lands on professional, college, amateur, esports, and other events. It also permits parimutuel wagering on horse racing. The Spectrum Center is one of several venues that house professional teams and events that will be allowed to host a retail sportsbook. Those 21 and over located within the state at the time are allowed to wager. 

A five-year license costs $1 million, plus $80,000 in various application fees. 

North Carolina currently allows retail sports betting at two Native American casinos. A bid to bring online betting to the state fell one vote short of passage in the House last year. That gave the push to legalize online betting a boost heading into this year’s session.

North Carolina sports betting must begin no later than June 14, 2024.

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North Carolina Sports Betting Bill Details

The North Carolina State Lottery Commission is in charge of gambling throughout the state. It lost out to the major-league teams in the Tar Heel state and other pro-sports organizations when it came to selecting and approving potential sports books. 

The budget with the new North Carolina sports betting procedures became law on October 2 after Cooper let a 10-day period lapse without his veto or signature.

The new budget eliminates a limit of 12 North Carolina mobile sports betting operators from a law that was passed earlier in 2023. 

It wipes out the wording that allowed the Lottery Commission to initially approve each operator, shifting that power approval to the pro sports, teams, organizations, and venues. 

The Commission is using GLI to help it with rule-making, licensing procedures, development of an audit program, and risk control. 

The company has assisted Massachusetts, Kentucky, and Vermont in setting up their betting ecosystems. Carpenter most recently spent 8 years as a regulator with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

The bill permits betting on college events, something that was not included in the bill that failed last year. The state tax rate on net gaming revenues for the books is 18%. Operators will pay $1 million for a five-year license. 

The bill prohibits operators from deducting promos and credits from their taxable income. That is a trend that has been adopted elsewhere and cuts into the operators’ net profits.

 It would allow retail sites to open off Native American lands and take cash wagers. It also introduces parimutuel wagering on horse races. 

Those eight retail betting sites allowed to take wagers are those that play host to a NASCAR Series race, a pro golf tournament with more than 50,000 live spectators. And those facilities that are home to MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL, NHL, or NWSL franchises. The NBA Charlotte Hornets, NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, and NFL Carolina Panthers all call the Tar Heel State home. 

Money from license fees and taxes will be directed to several state departments, including $2 million annually for the Department of Health and Human Services for gambling addiction education and treatment programs. Along with $300,000 to the athletic departments at several universities and colleges.

The bill allows bettors to use, among other tools, credit cards, prepaid cards, foreign currency, and crypto/virtual currency to fund their accounts. 

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About the Author

Bill Speros for Bookies.com
Bill Speros
Bill Speros is an award-winning journalist and editor whose career includes stops at USA Today Sports Network / Golfweek, Cox Media, ESPN, Orlando Sentinel and Denver Post.