North Carolina Gambling Laws

North Carolina residents want mobile sports betting. Their behavior during football season proved as much. So when will mobile sports betting actually arrive in the Tar Heel State?

Online sports betting in North Carolina became legal on June 14, when Gov. Roy Cooper signed House Bill 347. The bill allows for 11 online sportsbooks, two tribal online sportsbooks, and provides for expanded horse-race betting.

The North Carolina online sports betting market will launch on March 11, 2024, and NC sports bettors can begin downloading apps and funding their accounts starting March 1.

Current legal status of NC sports betting

Until March 11, North Carolina residents 21 and over (and guests who would like to place sports wagers) have three land-based options. The three locations are all tribal facilities, and they were granted the right to offer on-site sports betting through the passage of Senate Bill 154 in 2019. The first legal bet in state history occurred two years later in 2021.

The three locations where you can place a sports bet legally in North Carolina are:

All sports betting must take place within reservation lands. In theory, it would be possible to offer mobile sports betting to customers physically on tribal grounds, but neither tribe has seen fit to offer an app in such a limited context.

Make no mistake—until North Carolina online sports betting launches on March 11, there is no legal way to place a mobile sports wager in North Carolina at this time. Any statements to the contrary are either misleading or plain wrong.

Top teams for betting in NC

North Carolina has plenty of teams that qualify as in-state betting favorites. Of course, nobody is going to be a fan of all of these teams, but there is undoubtedly tons of action whenever one of these teams has a game:

In addition to those professional teams, North Carolina is a hub for college athletics—particularly basketball. Here are the universities in the Tar Heel State that are big ticket items for NC sports bettors:

  • University of North Carolina
  • North Carolina State University
  • Duke University
  • Wake Forest University
  • Davidson College

Although some states choose to limit wagering on in-state collegiate teams, the enabling laws for in-person and online wagering in North Carolina bear no such provisions.

Legal online sports betting nearby

While North Carolinians wait for the launch of online sports betting on March 11, there are a couple of options in adjoining states to which North Carolinians may travel and place a bet. Although traveling to another state to wager may not be convenient for many NC residents, it’s a real option.

The first opportunity is traveling north to Virginia. Virginia legalized online sports betting in 2021 and now offers more than a dozen online apps to anyone over the age of 21 and inside state lines.

You can also find online sports betting to the west in Tennessee. Tennessee surprised many observers (who did not have the Volunteer State as a likely state to legalize) when it made mobile wagering legal back in 2019. The state has roughly one dozen sportsbook apps available for play and may add more in the future.

NC sports betting laws FAQ

Does North Carolina have sports betting?

Yes, North Carolina has legalized sports betting at three retail locations and online. Online sports betting will launch on March 11, 2024.

Where can I bet on sports in NC?

There are three tribal locations that will accept wagers in North Carolina: the Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in Cherokee, the Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino in Murphy, and the Catawba Two Kings Casino in Kings Mountain.

Does North Carolina offer online sports betting?

Online sports betting is legal and it will launch in the state on March 11, 2024.

Does NC sports betting have an age restriction?

As all three of the aforementioned casino sportsbooks are located inside 21+ facilities, you must be over the age of 21 to play. In addition, when online sports betting launches in North Carolina, it will also have a 21+ age requirement.

Do I have to be a resident of the state to play?

No, you don’t have to be a resident of North Carolina to play at its sportsbooks. Furthermore, there will be no residency requirement for online sports betting. The only stipulation a North Carolina online sportsbook will make is that a person places the bet while within state lines.

Do I have to be inside North Carolina to play?

Yes, you must be inside the state to place a sports wager. For the most part, that’s obvious, since in-person betting is the only permitted type of sports betting right now. Do not attempt to phone your bets directly into one of the sportsbooks or to an NC-based friend. Betting over the phone or as a proxy is a federal crime, regardless of state law.

Once mobile sports wagering becomes a reality, you will have to verify your location inside the Tar Heel State before completing a wager. The apps use geolocation verification software and are quite strict about enforcing the location mandate. They have to be, as they face fines and other sanctions from regulators if they aren’t vigilant about it.

Who regulates sports betting in NC?

At present, two tribe-specific regulators monitor the three sportsbooks in North Carolina. The Cherokee Tribal Gaming Commission oversees the two Harrah’s facilities, while the Catawba Nation Gaming Commission has jurisdiction over Catawba Two Kings. HB 347, which legalized online sports betting, named the North Carolina Lottery Commission, as regulator of the state’e commercial sports betting industry.


About the Author

Mary Shaffrey

Mary Shaffrey is an award-winning journalist who co-authored "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Government." She has spent more than 20 years covering government, both at the state and federal level. As a fan of the Baltimore Orioles and the Providence College Friars she feels cursed. Luckily she is a hockey mom too so her spirits aren't totally shot.