Is sports betting legal in North Carolina?

Yes. Retail sports betting is legal and active in North Carolina. There are two Caesars sportsbooks in the western portion of the state. Both locations are part of tribal casinos — the similarly named Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River. A third tribal casino, Catawba Two Kings, began offering sports betting in September 2022.

What’s happening in North Carolina sports betting right now

The status of North Carolina sports betting

North Carolina is similar to many states in the American South in that it defaults to a rather cautious stance about gambling in most cases. There are no casinos outside of the three tribal locations. So although North Carolina authorities moved forward with retail sports betting, it was a mild surprise for gambling observers.

For a time, it seemed as though North Carolinians would be getting more opportunities for sports betting in the near future. SB 688 sailed through the North Carolina Senate, and reports suggested that the bill had the votes to pass in the House of Representatives, too. Unfortunately, disagreements over elements of the bill ultimately killed its chances for passage in the waning weeks of the 2022 legislative session. If lawmakers do want to make another attempt at mobile sports betting law, they will have to wait until 2023 to do so.

When will online sports betting launch in North Carolina?

No earlier than 2024. Because online sports betting met with legislative defeat in 2022, the timeframe for a launch is delayed considerably. Although it’s possible that lawmakers and regulators could get everything solved in 2023, the reality is that a debut in 2024 is probably the earliest North Carolina bettors could wager legally through their devices and laptops.

Although the estimate seems dire, it’s important to bear in mind the numerous hurdles that await any sports betting expansion in North Carolina. Legislation must pass both chambers of the legislature, and members in both the House and Senate can hold up the process for amendments or questions about the law at any time. The bill must also pass muster with Gov. Cooper, who can always veto the bill and send it back for a potential override.

Even if mobile sports betting becomes legal, there is still a monumental regulatory task at hand. The designated regulator must promulgate rules for the new industry and adjust to feedback it receives from stakeholders and members of the public. The bottom line is that passing any type of legislation is not a short-term process, so the 2022 defeat for sports betting is certainly a setback for the timeline.

Potential North Carolina sportsbook apps

The number of sportsbook apps that might be available in North Carolina in the future is quite uncertain. Without a law or bill to designate the number of permits or structure of the industry, it’s nearly impossible to say that any number of sportsbooks are bound for the Tar Heel State. However, based upon their previous activities in other states and/or their connections to North Carolina, here are the most likely candidates to appear whenever North Carolina permits mobile wagering:

Recent North Carolina sports betting news

North Carolina sports betting bills

A sports betting bill, HB 347, was filed in the North Carolina General Assembly by Rep. Jason Saine on March 13, 2022. The proposed bill would authorize 10 to 12 legal sportsbooks in the state.  

HB 347 would require operators to pay a $1 million fee for a five-year license as well as a 14% tax. The legal sports betting companies in the state would also be allowed to deduct promotional credits from their taxable revenue through 2026. 

Legal sports betting options in NC

The only legal sports betting options in North Carolina are the retail sportsbooks located at the three tribal casinos in the state. Two sportsbooks are operated by Caesars and are owned by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The third is owned and operated by the Catawba Nation itself.

You must visit one of the following locations to place a legal bet on a sporting event:

Barring additional expansion, these are the only three locations that can host a sportsbook in the Tar Heel State. Mobile sports wagering would make sports betting possible throughout the state.

However, any site that claims to accept wagering from North Carolina right now is an offshore site based outside of the United States. Those sites come with a variety of legal and logistical concerns that make playing with them dangerous for your money.

Most popular sports to bet on in North Carolina

North Carolina is home to some popular sports teams, both professional and collegiate.

The NFL’s Carolina Panthers will likely lead the way, as the NFL is typically king at sportsbooks. The Panthers play in Charlotte, NC and have made it to the Super Bowl a couple times in their history.

The NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes and NBA’s Charlotte Hornets are also local favorites. The Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup in 2006, while the Hornets, owned by Michael Jordan, continue to struggle for success.

But the Hornets aren’t the most popular basketball team in the state. The University of North Carolina Tar Heels and Duke Blue Devils both have passionately loyal fanbases.

North Carolinians can bet on those teams, as well as any other Division I college team in and out of state, in North Carolina.

North Carolina and daily fantasy sports

Entering daily fantasy sports competitions is legal in North Carolina. The legislature did not pass specific legislation that regulates and taxes DFS but did not outlaw the contests either.

That means the popular games offered by DFS operators like DraftKings and FanDuel can be played within the state of North Carolina.

Is horse betting legal in North Carolina?

Yes, pari-mutuel horse betting is legal in North Carolina at the tribal casinos in the state. However, there are no legal online horse betting sites.

The same 2019 law that permitted the placement of retail sportsbooks in these venues also allowed bets on races to occur. However, there are no active racetracks in the state, so it’s not immediately clear how much business the racebooks are receiving.

North Carolina sports betting timeline

2022: An online sports betting bill, SB 688, begins making its way through committee hearings in February. The Senate bill creates the possibility of 10 to 12 online sportsbooks. It passes the Senate convincingly, but runs into strong opposition over its language and provisions in the House. After some debate and foot-dragging in the lower chamber, the bill fails to become law and North Carolinians must wait at least another year for mobile sports wagering.

The Catawba Two Kings Casino opened a sportsbook in September. The casino sits on the North Carolina-South Carolina border about 40 minutes west of Charlotte.

2021: Legal sports betting begins at two casinos in the state, while a Senate bill begins its journey to legalize online sports betting in the state. The bill is eligible to pick back up in the House when the 2022 session begins.

2019: It takes nearly five months from introduction to signature, but SB 154 passes fairly easily through the Legislature. The Senate supports the bill 43-7, and the House passes it on to Gov. Roy Cooper on a 90-27 vote.

North Carolina sports betting FAQ

Who would oversee online sports betting in North Carolina?

Probably the North Carolina Education Lottery. Although retail sports betting in the state takes place under the oversight of the Cherokee Tribal Gaming Commission, a statewide sports betting market would require greater oversight. Fittingly, as there is no true gambling commission in North Carolina, the most recent sports betting bill in the North Carolina Legislature named the NC Education Lottery as the regulator.

What is the legal gambling age in North Carolina?

21. Visitors at North Carolina gambling locations must be 21 or older to play in the casino, and online sports bettors will have to verify that they are over the drinking age in order to place a bet and be inside state lines, too.

Will online sports betting be legal in NC?

It is not clear at the moment if or when online sports betting will be legal in North Carolina. The most recent effort to legalize online sports betting in NC failed in the North Carolina House of Representatives at the end of the 2022 session.

Some sports betting websites say they accept bets from North Carolina. Are those legal options?

No. The sites that offer sports betting to North Carolinians right now are based outside of the United States and are not legal. Playing on offshore sites comes with its own set of risks precisely because the sites are outside the jurisdiction of North Carolina and US law. Without the law, you do not have the same protections that you have with regulated sites.

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