North Carolina’s fight against legal gambling has been ongoing, occasionally marked by slow progress on the pro-gambling front. There was optimism that fully-fledged sports betting would soon come to the Tar Heel State. A Senate bill to allow online sports betting was narrowly defeated.
The 2022 legislative session saw a flurry of activity, but ultimately ended with SB 688 being voted down. Now North Carolina residents will have to wait until 2023 for the possible legalization of online sports betting with online sportsbooks unlikely to launch until 2024.
However, there are still options for prospective sports bettors in North Carolina. Sports betting is in fact legal in the state, just not yet online. There are now three retail sportsbook locations in the western part of the state, all as part of tribal casinos: Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River, and Catawba Two Kings. In-person betting is legal at all three locations.
While sports bettors might be disappointed with the defeat of SB 688, there is potential for more change in the future. North Carolina residents can make their way to a retail sportsbook or cross into another state to make bets for this NFL or college football season. The wait for full online sports betting might just take a little bit longer.
Let’s break down everything you need to know about sports betting in North Carolina as it stands today, as well as examine how it might develop in the future.
What Online Gambling Apps Are Coming To North Carolina?
Retail sportsbooks already have a presence in North Carolina. As for possible online sportsbook and casino options in the future, there are many large and reputable companies that operate in the space. These are some of the big names in the industry, and likely options to eventually come to the state:
FanDuel may apply for North Carolina sports betting licensure as soon as it is able, as it is currently trying to spread into all states with legal sports betting industries. The operator features an excellent mobile app and a very generous opening bonus with a “no sweat first bet” worth up to $1,000.
DraftKings is another major operator in the sports betting industry and FanDuel’s biggest rival. This sportsbook has terrific market depth and variety, mobile-only betting pools, promotions, and live stream betting system.
BetRivers offers a minimalist and easy-to-navigate sports betting interface. They also feature a simple second chance bet bonus of up to $500. BetRivers’ betting markets aren’t as diverse as DraftKings’, but this operator is great for placing wagers on major American sports like NFL games and NBA games. It also features a fantastic in-play betting interface that rarely lags, even with a lot of site traffic.
Caesars has recently expanded to operate in most states with legal sports betting industries including North Carolina. They operate two of the retail in-state sportsbook locations at the tribal casinos: Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River. They offer a fantastic rewards program that casino fans will be especially drawn to, plus a very generous opening bonus: your first bet is on Caesars up to $1,250.
BetMGM may also decide to pursue North Carolina sports betting licensure since it’s looking to boost its market dominance in the eastern US. It offers player-friendly odds, a navigable betting platform and interface, and a risk-free bet worth up to $1,000 as its opening bonus.
Latest NC Sports and Gambling News
History Of Gambling And Sports Betting In North Carolina
Gambling in North Carolina overall took quite some time to get going. A state lottery was only authorized in 2005 and finally launched the following year. Unlike many other states with restrictive gambling industries, North Carolina didn’t even allow horse or dog racing or wagering in any capacity.
All the way up until 2012, only electronic poker and slots were available in North Carolina, and only at the Eastern Band of Cherokee’s two Harrah’s casinos. These Appalachian casinos finally got the opportunity to offer live dealers and additional games in 2012 thanks to a new state amendment.
Both of these casinos were only allowed partially because of their proximity to Atlanta, Georgia. Many Georgians visit North Carolina casinos as they are their only nearby and legal gambling outlets.
More recently, the Catawba Nation has begun to build a $600 million casino near Kings Mountain. This would draw customers primarily from Charlotte. Additionally, sports betting was legalized in July 2019 with the passage of SB 154.
Even after the passage of that bill, it still took until March 2021 for Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River to open The Book: the sportsbook brand available at both casinos.
This sportsbook brand lacks many of the staple features and attractions of more widespread sportsbook operators, like DraftKings and FanDuel, such as an opening bonus. In the summer of 2022, Catawba Two Kings Casino opened its doors and added another retail sportsbook location to the state. Currently, the only legal sports wagering option for North Carolina residents are at these three physical locations.
In spring of 2021, Senators Jim Perry and Paul Lowe first introduced SB 688. The bill, which would have legalized online sports betting as well as the potential for more retail locations such as professional sporting venues, went through several changes and amendments.
The bill gathered strong support in certain circles, but came to a dead end in the summer of 2022. SB 688 was ultimately defeated by a 51-50 second reading vote.
There is some hope that another bill could be introduced in the future, but North Carolina will have to wait for that possibility and even longer for a potential launch of an online sports betting industry. Online casinos in North Carolina seem even further out than online sports betting, as is the pattern across the country.
Timeline Of North Carolina’s Gambling History
- July 16, 2019 – North Carolina passes SB 154, legalizing retail sports betting
- March 2021 – Sports betting launches in North Carolina with the opening of The Book sportsbook in both of its retail casinos
- April 2021 – SB 688 is introduced to the North Carolina Senate and starts to move through legislative committees
- February 2022 – Governor Roy Cooper tells ACC Now Podcast that sports betting in North Carolina could arrive this year.
- April 2022 – A survey by WRAL shows that 52% of the public supports legalizing online sports betting in North Carolina
- May 2022 – Legislative session begins
- June 2022 – Despite some strong support in certain circles, SB 688 – the bill that would have legalized online sports betting and expanded the industry within the state – does not pass by a 51-50 vote
- Fall 2022 – North Carolina residents will have to wait at least another year to be able to legally bet on football and other sports online
North Carolina Sports Betting FAQs
No. With North Carolina sports betting legislation failing in the last scheduled legislative session of 2022, no sports betting bills will be passed this year. Residents will need to visit a neighboring state where it is legal in order to place a bet online.
Yes. The North Carolina state lottery began in 2006 and still runs to this day. It can only be played in person.
Yes, DFS is legal in North Carolina. There is an exception regarding daily fantasy sports. While a bill that specifically regulates and taxes DFS has not been passed, DFS has also not been outlawed in North Carolina. The industry’s largest players, including FanDuel and DraftKings, operate in the state.
North Carolina retail casinos include Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River. Both facilities are owned by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Tribe, and feature a Caesars Sportsbook for retail sports bets. A third tribal casino, Catawba Two Kings, opened their doors in the summer of 2022.
Joining a casino’s loyalty program can be beneficial to bettors. It is especially helpful if you plan to visit the casino regularly and rack up rewards points by doing so. Since North Carolina’s best sports betting opportunities are at Harrah’s casinos, joining this brand’s loyalty program could be a good idea considering that it may be some time before online gambling in North Carolina is legalized. With both sportsbooks being operated by Caesar’s, there is an opportunity to join Caesar’s Rewards, which can be redeemed at more than 50 locations nationwide.
Yes. All three of North Carolina’s retail casinos have security measures in place in order to protect both you and your money that you may bring to their premises.
Yes, but only in person at one of the state’s retail sportsbooks. These include the sportsbooks at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino, Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino, and the new location at Catawba Two Kings Casino. Online sports betting remains illegal.