Daily fantasy sports provide one legal way for North Carolina fans to wager on sports, namely by entering DFS contests.
Sports betting is legal in the state, but only in person at a very limited number of locations. Meanwhile, daily fantasy sports contests are available online, with various DFS sites inviting NC players to build fantasy teams and compete for cash prizes.
The page explains all you need to know about daily fantasy sports in North Carolina. Read on for info about how to play DFS, the best sites available to North Carolina players, and other ins and outs regarding DFS in the state.
Is daily fantasy sports legal in North Carolina?
North Carolina is one of many states that have neither a law explicitly authorizing daily fantasy sports nor a law prohibiting the contests. That means there is no regulatory oversight for DFS in North Carolina and no need for providers to obtain licenses. Technically speaking, it is fair to say NC is in a legal gray area when it comes to daily fantasy sports. Even so, as is true in many other states, without laws authorizing or forbidding DFS, North Carolinians can safely enter the contests.
Recent bills to expand sports betting specifically excluded fantasy sports from the discussion. North Carolina lawmakers have considered legislation to authorize fantasy sports in the past. However, none of the proposed bills advanced far enough to pass, so North Carolina remains without any specific DFS legislation, for or against.
Best daily fantasy sports apps in North Carolina
Several daily fantasy sports sites serve North Carolina, including the most popular ones in the country. Some of the best known ones available in NC include:
- Monkey Knife Fight
- Yahoo Fantasy Sports
- WinView Games
- Outlast Daily Fantasy Sports
DraftKings and FanDuel are far and away the most popular DFS sites overall, as well as in North Carolina. Both sites are accessible via a desktop or laptop web browser. Both also have popular apps that offer all the same functionality and features as the websites, available for both iOS (Apple) and Android devices. You’ll find that other fantasy sports sites also have apps to go along with their websites.
One note about one of the other above sites, in 2020, Monkey Knife Fight acquired the DFS site FantasyDraft. Some may remember that FantasyDraft launched in 2014 with its headquarters in Charlotte. By the time of the acquisition, it had become one of the better-known “second tier” DFS sites behind DraftKings and FanDuel.
Monkey Knife Fight actually offers a variation on traditional DFS with special parlay-like matchups. Other sites you can play in NC that fall into the DFS category but offer something a little different include Jock MKT (a fantasy site that employs a “stock exchange” model) and Fliff (a social sportsbook).
DFS vs. Sports Betting – What’s the difference?
DFS betting has a lot in common with traditional sports betting, but there are key differences that set it apart. Even if the two activities are similar, though, from a legal standpoint, most states have drawn a clear line between the two. North Carolina is one of those states where you can play fantasy sports online from anywhere, but regular sports betting is legal only in person at retail sportsbooks in tribal casinos.
Additionally, with regular sports betting, you are often betting on a team to win outright or by a certain margin, or with proposition bets, you might bet on a single player’s statistical performance. With DFS, you are never betting on a particular team or just one player but instead on the collective performance of a selection of players whom you have chosen for your fantasy team.
Therefore, unlike in regular sports betting, the game result usually doesn’t matter in DFS. If you bet on the Charlotte Hornets to win, you are obviously rooting for them to do so. But in a daily fantasy sports contest, you might draft LaMelo Ball onto your team along with several other players from other teams. Whether Charlotte wins or not will not affect your bet directly, but how many points, assists, rebounds, and steals Ball gets will.
There are many ways to play DFS, some of which we cover below. Be aware that when creating a lineup for a daily fantasy sports contest, you generally must choose players from at least two teams. That is to say, you can’t only pick Carolina Panthers players to fill out an NFL daily fantasy team. That is probably the most significant difference between regular sports betting and fantasy sports — the team you bet on is not a “real” team but a made-up “fantasy” team that you created.
How to play daily fantasy sports in North Carolina
If you are in North Carolina and new to daily fantasy sports, getting started is easy. Here are the steps:
Registering for a DFS account
Most daily fantasy sports sites in North Carolina make it simple to create an account. Start by visiting the site and looking for a “Sign Up” or “Register” button. If you’ve downloaded the DFS app, you’ll find a similar button there, as well. The site will then ask for some personal information:
- Full name
- Date of birth
- Home address
- Email address
- Phone number
Some sites may not even ask for this much information, while others may ask for more, including the last four digits of your Social Security number. Providing this information helps the site know that you are who you say you are. Also, in most states — including North Carolina — you have to be at least 18 years old to play daily fantasy sports for real money, which is why you have to give your birthdate.
The registration process usually involves creating a username and password. You also typically have to agree to the site’s terms and conditions.
Depositing funds into your DFS account
The next step toward playing daily fantasy sports in North Carolina is to deposit funds into your account. Most sites provide multiple ways to do so. You’ll often find some or all of the following deposit methods available:
- Online banking (using your banking institution)
- Credit and debit cards (Visa, Mastercard, Discover)
- Prepaid cards and gift cards
- E-wallets like PayPal
You’ll also need to provide some personal information here in order to transfer funds into your account. When it comes to withdrawing, you can often use the same method you used to deposit. However, sometimes certain methods aren’t available for withdrawals. Be sure to check the site’s banking options to verify that there’s at least one that works for you.
Entering a lineup into a DFS contest
Once you have funds in your account, you can start entering online daily fantasy sports contests. Start by looking through the site’s lobby to see what’s available.
You can usually filter contests in different ways, such as by showing only contests for a certain sport or league. You can also filter by stakes to show only contests costing a certain amount, which is helpful for finding contests within your budget. You’ll find a lot of contests only costing $0.25 or $1 to play. You’ll also likely see some free DFS contests, some of which might have cash prizes.
Once you’ve found a contest, you want to enter, click on it and start selecting players to fill out your lineup. Usually, you have a salary cap of virtual money to spend on your players, with the DFS site assigning each one a price tag. Since you cannot spend more than the maximum, that forces you to make some choices and not simply pick the best players available for your team.
After setting your lineup, click submit to enter your team into the contest. Most sites allow you to edit your lineup right up until the moment the contest begins. You can even unregister from the contest if you like if it hasn’t started. When you unregister, the money you spent to play the contest will return to your account.
Tracking your teams in DFS contests
Probably the most entertaining part of playing daily fantasy sports is following your team’s progress once the contest has begun. DFS sites automatically calculate fantasy points for each player and your team total as the games play out. You can track your team and watch the leaderboard change until the last game ends.
Sometimes even just a single event like a touchdown or 3-pointer, or strikeout can dramatically affect the standings in the contest, especially when there are hundreds or thousands of players participating. It can be especially exciting if your lineup is contending for the top prizes near the end of the night.
DFS contests available in North Carolina
Daily fantasy sports contests come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Here’s a rundown of a few especially popular options you’ll typically see on most daily fantasy sports sites:
Guaranteed prize pools
Many DFS contests have guaranteed prize pools. These are contests in which the site guarantees a minimum prize pool no matter how many entries there are. Usually, the top 10% to 20% of finishers split the prize money in GPPs, with the payouts gradually increasing and the highest prizes going to the top finishers. The payout structure is much like a poker tournament, which is why you’ll sometimes hear people refer to GPPs as “tournaments.”
Cash games work differently in DFS. They don’t usually have guaranteed prize pools, which means if they don’t attract the minimum number of entries, the contest does not run. Also, rather than the top percentage of finishers winning money, in cash games, the winners usually all win the same amount. For example, in 50/50 contests, the top 50% of finishers cash. You’ll also encounter double-up contests in which all the winners win twice their buy-in. Head-to-head contests work similarly like a “winner take all” heads-up match.
Whereas in most DFS contests you compile your lineup by picking players competing in several games, with showdown contests you pick all of your players from a single game. The catch is you still have to pick players from more than one team, which means you have to have at least one player from each of the teams. In other words, if you entered a showdown contest for a Carolina Hurricanes–Florida Panthers game, your lineup would have to include players from both the ’Canes and Panthers. You’ll find showdowns as both GPPs and cash games.
Tier-style contests get rid of the salary requirement and instead invite participants to choose one player each from a number of set groups or tiers. Usually, there will be six tiers, each featuring a range from three to eight players (it varies). You’ll assess each group and pick just one player each from Tier 1, Tier 2, and so on. These contests can be GPPs or showdowns.
Sports available for DFS contests in North Carolina
Depending on the DFS site, you’ll usually find all of the major sports and many minor ones, too.
- Australian rules football
- Auto racing (NASCAR, F1)
- Baseball (MLB)
- Basketball (NBA, NCAA, EuroLeague)
- Esports (League of Legends, Valorant)
- Football (NFL, NCAA, CFL)
- Golf (PGA, LPGA)
- Hockey (NHL)
- Mixed martial arts (UFC)
- Soccer (EPL, MLS)
- Tennis (ATP, WTA)
Whatever your favorite sport is, you are likely to find multiple daily fantasy contests for it.
History of daily fantasy sports in North Carolina
Daily fantasy sports first emerged in a big way in the late 2000s and early 2010s. FanDuel launched its DFS site in 2009, and DraftKings followed in 2012. Both of those sites and others served North Carolina even though it was one of many states without any specific law either authorizing or forbidding DFS. Other sites became available in the state, as well, including Charlotte-based FantasyDraft in 2014.
As DFS grew and became more popular, many states began seeking to define the legality of fantasy sports. New York is an example of a state that was litigating DFS back in 2016. As part of that debate, NC was one of several states mentioned as following a “predominance test” that considers the relative levels of luck and skill when judging the legality of a game like DFS. (New York finally officially legalized DFS in early 2022.)
North Carolina still had no DFS legislation, though, so in 2017 state Rep. Jason Saine sponsored a bill, HB 279, called the Fantasy Sports Contests Act. The legislation would require DFS sites to register, pay registration fees and contribute 10% of gross revenues to the state, though only up to $10,000 per year. It would also explicitly exclude fantasy contests from non-authorized forms of gambling as defined by the North Carolina General Statutes. However, the bill failed to make it out of committee.
Another attempt came in 2019 when Saine and others co-sponsored HB 929, a bill that would recodify statutes regarding charitable gaming (specifically bingo and raffles) and boxing. The bill would also create a new nine-member commission to oversee gambling in NC, something the state does not have. The bill additionally included a provision to regulate fantasy contests, putting the new commission in charge of oversight.
That bill advanced a little further, although along the way it lost the provision regarding fantasy sports. Multiple House committees ultimately heard the bill, but it never came up for a formal vote.
Lawmakers haven’t introduced any further bills seeking to authorize DFS in North Carolina. During the 2021-22 legislative session, both the North Carolina House and Senate seriously considered legislation to expand legal sports betting. However, those bills explicitly stated the new legislation would not apply to fantasy sports. Therefore, daily fantasy sports contests continue to be available in North Carolina without having legal authorization or being subject to any state-run regulatory oversight.