While North Carolina has no legal online casinos, there are social and sweepstakes casinos available that invite people in the state to play slots, blackjack, roulette, and other games online.
North Carolina is also home to three tribal casinos, two in the western part of the state and another closer to Charlotte. The two Harrah’s Cherokee properties in Cherokee and Murphy each have a full menu of casino games. The Catawba Twin Kings Casino in Kings Mountain, meanwhile, has slots and electronic table games, with plans to expand and increase its offerings soon.
Read on for a full overview of casino games in North Carolina, including what’s available now and what may be coming in the future.
Does North Carolina have online casinos?
No, online gambling for real money is mostly illegal in North Carolina. As a result, you won’t find any online casinos as you would in states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.
North Carolina does allow some forms of gambling online, though, including online purchases of lottery tickets. The state also has no law prohibiting online daily fantasy contests. But it does not permit other forms of real money online gambling, including online casinos.
Is it illegal to play at an online casino in North Carolina?
Yes, NC state law specifically criminalizes playing games at online casinos in North Carolina. The law is quite explicit about it being illegal both to operate such games and to play them.
Chapter 14-292 of the North Carolina General Statutes explains that when it comes to forms of gambling not authorized elsewhere in the law (for example, the state lottery), “any person or organization that operates any game of chance or any person who plays at or bets on a game of chance at which money, property or anything of value is bet, whether the same be in stake or not, shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.”
In North Carolina, a Class 2 misdemeanor carries a potential fine of up to $1,000 and up to 60 days in jail.
Potential for North Carolina to regulate online casinos
There is very little chance that North Carolina lawmakers will introduce legal online casinos in the state. Despite allowing online sales of lottery tickets, NC does not appear anywhere close to entertaining the idea of adding NC online casinos to the state’s legal gambling options.
North Carolina lawmakers came very close recently to legalizing online sports betting. Some states that have legalized online sports betting have also authorized online casinos, but that doesn’t seem especially likely to happen in NC.
Social and sweepstakes casinos in North Carolina
One legal option for those in North Carolina wanting to play casino games online is to play at social and sweepstakes casinos. Online slots are featured most frequently on these sites, although some also have a selection of table games.
These sites operate much like regular online casinos, only instead of using real money in the games, they employ virtual currencies. The best of these sites feature the same high-level graphics, animation, and sounds you find at regular online casinos or in-person video slot machines, creating an immersive experience. You can typically play many of the games for free, and in some cases the sites offer chances to redeem winnings for cash prizes.
Here are a few of the more popular online social and sweepstakes casinos available in NC.
Pulsz is a popular site from Yellow Social Interactive. Though relatively new, it has added games at a rapid clip and now features more than 200 slot titles. Pulsz also offers a few table games, including blackjack, roulette, and baccarat.
A Virtual Gaming Worlds site, Chumba Casino has more than 80 casino games to choose from. Most are slots, but you’ll also find blackjack, roulette, and video poker.
Also from Virtual Gaming Worlds, LuckyLand Slots is a slot-centric sweepstakes site that features over 30 games.
Funzpoints is one more sweepstakes-style site that offers a way to play casino games online. From Woopla Inc., the site has over 30 slots, a keno game, and also daily jackpot drawings that provide an additional way to win.
Those are the most popular social and sweepstakes sites available. In addition, for North Carolina poker players, there is also Global Poker, an online poker site that employs a similar model using virtual currencies. The site features both regular ring games and multi-table tournaments.
The difference between legal online casinos and offshore sites
You may encounter online casinos advertising in a way that suggests they are legal for people in North Carolina. However, such sites are located outside of NC and outside of the US entirely. Such “offshore casinos,” therefore, are not beholden to either North Carolina or US laws and regulations.
Offshore sites present significant risks, and not just because of what NC law considers to be illegal online gambling. If you were to deposit funds and play on any of these offshore sites and then encounter problems regarding game integrity, suspicions of fraud or cheating or issues with accessing your account, the sites aren’t necessarily obligated to provide support or even respond to your complaints. That’s because they are regulated elsewhere, outside of North Carolina, and thus they don’t have to abide by NC gambling laws or regulations.
Legal, regulated online casinos conduct themselves differently. In states that allow them, the sites must follow regulators’ guidelines, and they risk losing their license to operate if they don’t. Given that North Carolina has no legal online casinos, it’s best not to risk playing on offshore sites from the state. If you’re looking for a legal online alternative, see our list of social and sweepstakes sites above.
Land-based casinos in North Carolina
North Carolina is home to three tribal casinos where you can play a variety of casino games in person.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is the only federally recognized Native American tribe based in the state. The Cherokees currently operate two casinos on their lands in the more mountainous western part of the state. Meanwhile, the Catawba Indian Nation is another federally recognized tribe based just over the state line in South Carolina. The Catawbas have lands elsewhere, and after securing land in trust in Kings Mountain, North Carolina, they were able to open a casino there.
Here is a quick overview of what you can expect to find at each of North Carolina’s three casinos.
Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort
By far the largest casino in NC, the venue at Harrah’s Cherokee features a 150,000-square-foot gambling floor with more than 3,000 slot machines and over 160 table games. The casino additionally features a Caesars Sportsbook with several ticket windows, self-serve kiosks and a 90-foot game wall. There is also a 32-table World Series of Poker-branded poker room where the casino frequently hosts WSOP Circuit events.
Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River
Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River is also situated in the mountains in the western corner of NC in Murphy, about an hour’s drive from Cherokee and very close to both the Tennessee and Georgia borders. The casino is smaller, with about 60,000 square feet of gambling space, more than 1,000 slots, more than 50 table games, and a Caesars Sportsbook.
Catawba Two Kings Casino
Catawba Two Kings Casino is the newest NC casino. Located in Kings Mountain, about a half-hour west of Charlotte, the facility is open though still under construction. The casino presently offers 1,000 slots plus some electronic table games and a sportsbook in about 30,000 square feet of gambling space. Present plans include expanding that to nearly 200,000 square feet and adding more slots and 50 table games.
Favorite casino games in North Carolina
North Carolina casinos feature a variety of popular casino games. The selections vary from property to property, and as mentioned, Catawba Two Kings Casino has only slots and electronic table games at present. Meanwhile, you’ll find most or all of the following casino favorites at the two Cherokee casinos:
- Slots (including progressive jackpots)
- Pai Gow
- Three Card Poker
- Let It Ride
- Ultimate Texas Hold’em
- Mississippi Stud
- Video poker
- Electronic table games
Remember as well that all three NC casinos now have retail sportsbooks. Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River each have Caesars Sportsbooks, while Catawba Two Kings Casino has its own sportsbook powered by International Gaming Technology.
North Carolina casino FAQ
The minimum age to play any of the casino games at NC tribal casinos is 21.
North Carolina does not have a gambling commission that oversees all gambling in the state. The North Carolina State Lottery Commission, part of the NC Department of Commerce, oversees the state-run lottery. Meanwhile, the Alcohol Law Enforcement agency, which is part of the NC Department of Public Safety, is in charge of enforcing gambling laws and prohibiting illegal gambling.
The Tribal Gaming Commission for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians regulates the games at the two Cherokee casinos, while the Tribal Gaming Commission for the Catawba Nation does the same for the Catawba casino. The state of North Carolina also oversees the tribal casinos’ activities in order to confirm they comply with tribal-state compacts. In addition, the US Bureau of Indian Affairs of the US Department of the Interior has approved those compacts and also oversees the tribes’ gambling activities.
No, if you are in NC you cannot play any games at the online casinos in states like Michigan, New Jersey and Pennsylvania where online casinos are legal. The laws in each of these states require anyone playing at their online casinos to be within the state when they do. The sites use geolocation technology to ensure no one outside of a legal state can play the games. The technology is similar to what the NC Education Lottery uses when someone purchases lottery tickets online. You must be in NC in order to buy lottery tickets via the NC Lottery website or app.
Yes, all three NC casinos have loyalty programs. The two Harrah’s Cherokee casinos both participate in the Caesars Rewards loyalty program. Guests can earn rewards for their play in the casinos as well as any time they spend money at the properties. Catawba Twin Rivers Casino has its own loyalty program, the Lucky North Club.
Yes, all three of the casinos in North Carolina have voluntary self-exclusion programs for guests who need them. The tribal-state compacts between NC and each of the tribes include requirements for the casinos to promote responsible gambling. Those compacts also require the casinos to adopt programs to address problem gambling and gambling addiction.