North Carolina Gambling Laws

Mobile sports betting is not legal in North Carolina, but proponents hope that will change in 2022. 

Legislation to allow mobile sports betting is making its way through the North Carolina General Assembly, but the clock is ticking on the action in 2021. 

Senate Bill 688 passed the Senate in August. It later passed out of one of several key committees in the House in November

Retail sports betting is legal in two tribal casinos in the western part of the state. 

Where Mobile Sports Betting Stands In North Carolina

Proponents of mobile sports betting have said their 2021 attempt is laying the groundwork for a 2022 launch.

Under SB 688, which would need to be introduced next year unless the House passes it and Governor Roy Cooper signs it in 2021, mobile sports betting would be administered by the North Carolina Education Lottery. Highlights of the proposal include:

  • 10-12 licenses for mobile sportsbooks such as FanDuel and DraftKings
  • A tax of 8% of revenue for each license 
  • Application fee of $500,000 per mobile license, $100,000 renewal fee per mobile license
  • The legal age for betting is 21
  • Bets would be legal on professional sports, college sports, electronic sports, Olympic sports, or any other event approved by the Commission
  • Creation of the North Carolina Major Events, Games, and Attractions Fund which would aim to improve economic development throughout the state

According to an August 2021 poll, the majority of North Carolina residents support sports betting. The poll, conducted by Eastern Carolina University, found 54% of respondents favored sports betting, while 46% were opposed. There was a large disparity though between those who voted in the 2020 election, and those who do not regularly vote, with non-voters more open to sports betting. 

“These results suggest that legalized sports betting has public support from the overall adult population in North Carolina,” Peter Francia, director of the ECU Center for Survey Research, said in a statement attached to the poll.

“However, it is also worth noting those who voted in the last election were more likely to disapprove than to approve of legalized sports gambling, which complicates the political considerations for North Carolina legislators. That said, if voters had to choose between raising property taxes or taxing sports betting revenue, the North Carolina public is overwhelmingly in agreement that their preference would be to tax sports betting revenue over increases in property taxes.”

What Sports Betting In North Carolina Could Look Like

Under SB 688 the tribal casinos could soon have some company with additional brick-and-mortar facilities authorized throughout the state.

The legislation says professional sporting venues with a minimum of 17,000 seats could host their own sportsbooks.  Currently, this would include Bank of America Stadium (NFL Carolina Panthers), Spectrum Center (NBA Charlotte Hornets), and PNC Arena (NHL Carolina Hurricanes).  

The Dean Smith Center, home to NCAA North Carolina Tar Heels, has a seating capacity of 21,500 but would be ineligible for a sportsbook because it hosts collegiate events and not professional ones. 

According to the legislation, only registered players could place bets.  How the registration process would unfold remains to be seen.  Players would have the option to voluntarily exclude themselves from placing wagers.

Nearby States With Sports Betting

Virginia legalized sports betting in 2021. The state, which borders North Carolina to the north, has eight mobile sportsbooks operating. 

Tennessee only allows mobile sports bets, and also has eight sportsbook apps up and running. North Carolina borders Tennessee to the west.

South Carolina has not legalized sports betting. 

Major Sports Teams In North Carolina

  • NHL – Carolina Hurricanes (Raleigh)
  • NBA – Charlotte Hornets (Charlotte)
  • NFL – Carolina Panthers (Charlotte)
  • MLS – Charlotte FC (Charlotte; the inaugural season is 2022, delayed start due to COVID-19)
  • NCAA Teams
    • University of North Carolina Tar Heels, Chapel Hill
    • Duke University, Blue Devils
    • Davidson College, Davidson
    • North Carolina State, Raleigh
    • Wake Forest, Winston-Salem 
    • Appalachian State University, Boone

North Carolina Sports Betting FAQs

Does North Carolina have mobile sports betting?

No. Legislation to allow mobile sports betting is under consideration by state lawmakers.

How old do I have to be to bet online in North Carolina?

Under the proposed bill, bettors need to be 21.

Is it legal to bet on college sports in North Carolina?

No. Under the proposed legislation it would be legal to bet on collegiate games, but collegiate facilities such as Dean Dome at UNC would not be allowed to house sportsbooks. 

How would online sportsbook apps be regulated in North Carolina?

The North Carolina Education Lottery commission is expected to be responsible for regulating sportsbook apps.  

Will I be able to bet on my iPhone or Android device in North Carolina?

A large number of sportsbooks have apps that work on both Apple and Android devices.  Search where you normally download apps and you should easily find the sportsbook you are looking for.

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.