North Carolina sports betting is coming, and the Carolina Hurricanes are preparing for the launch with a possible in-bistro sportsbook.
Hurricanes General Manager Don Waddell confirmed to the Centennial Authority board that the team will purchase Backyard Bistro across the street from Center Ice at PNC Arena. The sale is expected to close soon and will likely include an interim retail sportsbook while the team finalizes plans for a larger retail sportsbook at PNC Arena.
Raleigh Magazine reported on Instagram that “Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon’s venture company is buying Backyard Bistro to ultimately add a sports book! According to our sources, they will take over Jan. 1 with plans to close in April for a quick renovation. Translation: Hopefully reopening just in time for playoffs!”
NCSharp expects North Carolina online sports betting to be live by then, likely making the Backyard Bistro the first commercial retail sportsbook in the state.
One-half of the equation
The laws surrounding North Carolina sports betting enable approved in-state sports venues to establish retail sportsbooks at up to two places of public accommodation. One can be at the sporting venue, while the other can be either a half or one-and-a-half miles away, depending on the venue.
Waddell told the “Ovies + Giglio Show” in June about plans to develop PNC Arena. A proposal from Ratio/HOK architects includes a rooftop bar, a view terrace and a 4,000-square-foot sportsbook, but the team has yet to choose a developer.
By purchasing Backyard Bistro, the Hurricanes can take care of one half of the equation. According to CBS-17, Owner Tom Dundon is on record for wanting ‘ancillary development,’ and the Backyard Bistro acquisition is the first step toward making that desire a reality.
What about the other half?
Time continues to tick toward the yet-to-be-announced launch of online sports betting in North Carolina. Prospective operators have begun to forge partnerships with NC’s 11 eligible pro sports entities.
FanDuel Sportsbook became the third operator to ink a partnership, joining forces with the PGA Tour last week. ESPN Bet has partnered with Quail Hollow Club and Bet365 made headlines by being the first operator to sign a partnership when they did so with the Charlotte Hornets.
This leaves more than a handful of attractive partners of all sizes for the ‘Canes. Earlier this year, NCSharp rated the team as the second-most-attractive partnership to land for prospective NC sportsbooks.
The decision will come down to the best relational fit on both sides, but we can speculate on some possible suitors. Unsurprisingly, they’ll probably be some of the highest bidders.
- DraftKings: The company has a daily fantasy sports partnership with the Charlotte Hornets. However, DraftKings Sportsbook is an official betting partner of the NHL and could easily diversify to take a piece of the Charlotte and Raleigh markets.
- Caesars: Caesars already operates two casinos in North Carolina – Harrah’s Cherokee and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River. Caesars NC Sportsbook has direct competition from ESPN Bet NC, BetMGM and Fanatics Sportsbook. An NHL partnership could make the difference, even if Fanatics joins forces with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.
- BetMGM: Like DraftKings, BetMGM Sportsbook is an official sports betting partner of the NHL. Its brand recognition brings immediate authority and could make for a perfect match with the Hurricanes.
Part of a greater vision
Dundon’s purchase of Backyard Bistro signifies its first step in a larger commitment to redeveloping the entire area surrounding PNC Arena.
His plans to spend $300 million on facility upgrades, including the prospective sportsbook, and the adjacent property development will follow. On top of making Backyard Bistro a focus of the neighborhood, Dundon wants to build a sports and entertainment district that will make Raleigh a destination for fans and NC sports bettors.
The entertainment district will offer a music venue, a hotel, and a mix of retail, office and residential spaces spanning 80 acres. It will also add to the draw of becoming the official sports betting partner of the Carolina Hurricanes, for whichever NC sportsbook earns that title.
Image Credit: Karl B DeBlaker / AP Images