Hoop Dreams: How NC Sports Betting Could Boom From Basketball

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There is a new contender to lead basketball handle in the legal US market with NC sports betting coming online.

NC sports betting officially starts March 11. That means plenty of NCAA basketball betting opportunities with conference tournaments starting at the same time.

Basketball is nearly as iconic an institution in North Carolina as flight. With the Charlotte Hornets and 18 Division I teams for college basketball betting, there are plenty of local teams to boost handle figures.

Who leads basketball betting?

There are eight states that break out their handle by sport. It is always a battle between basketball and football betting for first place.

Based on 2023 totals, Nevada leads all states with 30.8% of betting dollars on basketball:

StateBasketball % of total handleFootball % of total handleParlay % of total handle
South Dakota25.4%44.9%N/A
New Jersey*22.4%19.3%25.6%

*Completed events only
**In-person parlay cards

The numbers, unfortunately, are not apples-to-apples as a number of states list parlay bets as their own segment. Based on historical data, a majority of those parlay bets are likely on one or both of the sports.

Illinois leads in terms of dollars bet on basketball nearly $2.69 billion, followed closely by New Jersey‘s completed basketball bets total of $2.68 billion. Nevada is third with $2.55 billion bet on basketball.

Will basketball lead NC sports betting?

North Carolina should slide in somewhere near the top of that list in terms of basketball betting. The industry may not have a clean read on that number until all of 2025 is recorded, though, since playoff football will not be included for 2024.

The football/basketball split also may never come out if the regulator decides not to report monthly numbers by sport.

LSR projects the first 12 months of NC sports betting could see $7 billion in total wagers. That will include March Madness betting with possibly five North Carolina schools, according to NCAA.com projections.

The University of North Carolina and Duke are projected as a two and three seed, respectively. North Carolina legislators would love to see either or both teams make a deep run to add tax dollars to state coffers.