NC Sports Betting Green Flag Lets NASCAR Prepare For Growth At Home

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NC sports betting

NASCAR is banking on the recent online NC sports betting launch to accelerate handle growth after “stagnant” wagering in 2023.

The NC sports betting market is expected to be critical for NASCAR. It has headquarters in Charlotte, operates two tracks in the state, and boasts three top 10 markets in nationwide TV viewership of its races.

“From 2022 to 2023, our handle grew 50%,” Joseph Solosky, managing director of sports betting at NASCAR, recently told LSR. “We were the highest growing sport year-over-year in terms of handle. Our data from last year was stagnant.”

Nationwide, NASCAR represents a small fraction of overall sports betting handle, which presents ample room for growth.

NC sports betting expected to boost NASCAR handle

NASCAR did not provide betting handle for its races, and Illinois is the only online sports betting market to share motor racing handle data.

Motor race handle in Illinois, which includes NASCAR, Formula 1, Indycar and others, grew from $7 million in 2021 to $11 million in 2022. Those figures align with the nationwide growth NASCAR experienced.

In 2023, Illinois bettors staked $11.5 million on motor races. It made up 0.1% of the $11.62 billion statewide handle last year.

NC sports betting deal with DraftKings

NASCAR lost market access in Virginia last year when its sports betting partner, WynnBet, ended operations in multiple states. Had they not lost Wynn as an operating partner, Solosky believes NASCAR betting handle would have grown another 15% to 25%.

Their NC sports betting partner is DraftKings Sportsbook, one of two US sports betting behemoths, which commands about 35% of nationwide market share.

“When the rules changed to allow for teams to partner with operators, DraftKings was on the very short list of two or three sportsbooks that we believe have longevity and strong market share in that space,” Solosky said, referring to a late North Carolina sports betting law change requiring online sportsbooks to access the market through professional sports organizations in the state.

An industry source told LSR last summer they believed NASCAR pushed behind the scenes for the rule changes. NASCAR never confirmed that, though.

NASCAR offers something local teams cannot

Greensboro, NC is the most popular NASCAR market for TV viewership. Charlotte and Raleigh also produce a top 10 audience. One of the advantages for NASCAR, though, is that it is a national brand and carries the DraftKings partnership beyond state lines.

“DraftKings will have the ability to potentially be a broadcast sponsor of races, and other tracks can have signage or a digital media presence in each state where they operate,” Solosky said. “You wouldn’t get that in a local team deal.”

Driver partnerships expected

Solosky believes the tight-knit NASCAR betting community will entice other NC sports betting apps to partner directly with drivers and their teams.

“Our fans are so loyal to drivers and what they promote, so those fans will likely bet on that sportsbook,” he said. “You will see drivers who have never had a sports betting sponsorship before get one specifically for North Carolina.”

NASCAR has featured Unibet and Barstool Sportsbook-branded cars in the past.

Larger revenue issues at play

In addition to individual deals and sponsorships, NASCAR teams are hoping to receive a cut of revenue from the growth of sports betting.

According to the AP, NASCAR teams hired an antitrust lawyer to advise them in their negotiations with NASCAR around a new revenue-sharing model.

Along with sports betting revenue, the teams want to be fairly compensated from a TV rights agreement and other product deals they feel they have been left out of.

In-race opportunity for NC sports betting

NASCAR is working with nVenue to launch a first-of-its-kind, in-race betting product as soon as this summer. The micro-betting tech platform provided predictive data for MLB games streamed last season through Apple TV+. nVenue displayed its live betting product for NASCAR at the Daytona 500 in mid-February.

“The trend in the US, if you’re not there already, is that more than 50% of all bets will be in play,” Solosky said. “So to not have an in-play product is really hurting us from a handle perspective and an engagement perspective.”

Solosky anticipates a full product launch this summer, adding, “It’s all about (nVenue’s) ability to sell the product to operators. We’ve been helping them with those relationships and brokering those conversations.”

Expectations for NC sports betting

Solosky said NASCAR betting typically hits a lull after the Daytona 500 in February.

The first event in North Carolina following the sports betting launch is the All-Star race at North Wilkesboro Speedway on May 19. Charlotte Motor Speedway will host its first event with legal NC sports betting one week later on May 26.

NASCAR betting generally picks back up again in the summer. With the potential for a new in-race betting option, Solosky will be looking to see if that traditional uptick in handle is more significant than in years past.

“Hopefully, the betting options are a bit better for NASCAR than they are to start the season, and we see some really big growth, maybe greater than 100% year over year,” he said.