Sports fans in North Carolina are at the mercy of the North Carolina Lottery Commission to determine when online sports betting will launch in the Tar Heel State.
Up to 12 online sports books could operate in North Carolina. The launch window is Jan. 8 to June 14, 2024. Not all launch dates are created equal, however.
NCSharp takes a look at four launch dates that make sense for North Carolina online sports betting to maximize the state’s return.
Jan. 8, 2024
The new sports betting law prescribes Jan. 8, 2024, as the earliest date wagering can start. The boost in betting a launch creates, combined with the sports calendar, makes Jan. 8 the ideal date for wagering to begin.
“Everyone wants to see [legal online sports betting] by the first of the year if at all possible,” Gov. Roy Cooper said.
For that to happen, the NC Lottery Commission (NCLC) must hire the staff to develop and implement sports betting, draft and adopt rules and regulations to govern sports betting and approve applications to operate in the state’s sports betting industry. All of that would have to happen in less than seven months.
A Jan. 8 launch would guarantee NC could cash in on the biggest betting events of the year. Notably, a Jan. 8 launch would allow North Carolina sports bettors to wager on the college football national championship game and the NFL playoffs.
The college football national championship game is in Houston on the night of Jan. 8. It would carry high betting interest in North Carolina. The NFL playoffs begin Jan. 13. Each year, the NFL playoffs account for about 3% of a state’s total handle – the amount of money bet.
Feb. 11, 2024
If the NCLC can’t get sports betting up and running by Jan. 8, Super Bowl Sunday should be the next target date.
Super Bowl 58 is Feb. 11, 2024, at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. The Super Bowl is the biggest single sports betting game of the year.
Wagering on the Super Bowl accounts for 1% of a state’s handle each year. It is estimated that $1 billion in legal bets were placed nationally on last year’s Super Bowl.
March 12, 2024
Betting on college sports is legal under the new online sports betting law. Few sports, if any, are bigger than college basketball in North Carolina. If the state misses out on betting during the NFL playoffs and the Super Bowl, the NCLC would be well-suited to launch by mid-March.
The ACC men’s basketball tournament starts March 12, 2024, at Capital One Arena in the District of Columbia. The NCAA tournament starts the following week and culminates the weekend of April 6 with the Final Four at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
The American Gaming Association estimated that 31 million Americans would bet online on last year’s NCAA tournament. College basketball’s popularity in the Tar Heel State would make March Madness a sports betting boon.
April 1, 2024
This is not an April Fool’s joke. If the NCLC misses the NFL playoffs, the Super Bowl and March Madness, its last chance to maximize the sports betting launch is before the NBA and NHL playoffs begin.
The NHL regular season is scheduled to end April 13. The NBA regular season is scheduled to end April 14. The playoffs start shortly thereafter.
NBA betting appears to be popular among younger sports bettors. According to an NCAA gambling survey of 3,527 people age 18-22 from April, 60% of respondents selected the NBA Finals when asked what betting events they planned to bet on in “the next six months.”
In the meantime, you can check out the best potential NC online sportsbook bonuses for betting on the NFL, Super Bowl, college basketball and other sports by visiting our dedicated promotions page.
Image: Chris Seward / AP photo