Caesars Sportsbook Accepts First Online Sports Bet In North Carolina

On Friday, March 1, 2024, Caesars Sportsbook accepted the first mobile bet in North Carolina.

Caesars, which partners with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to operate the two Harrah’s casinos in the western part of the state, continued that partnership to secure a mobile sports betting license.

Because of the existing tribal gaming compact between the EBCI and the state of North Carolina and stipulations in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), Caesars became the first sportsbook to receive the green light to offer online sports betting in North Carolina.

How Caesars got an online sports betting head start

Caesars Entertainment and the EBCI have held a partnership that’s “spanned more than two decades,” said Eric Hesion, president of Caesars Digital in a January press release.

That partnership and the attendant gaming compact created with the state of North Carolina allowed them to offer tribal casino gaming and retail sports betting in North Carolina when the two gaming expansions were passed in 2021.

Further, stipulations set out under IGRA allow Caesars Sportsbook NC to launch online sports betting at a date that appears to be ten days early.

However, under IGRA, the Cherokee are not beholden to the same launch timeline as the commercial operators in the state. As the Act stipulates,

“Class III gaming activities shall be lawful on Indian lands only if such activities are[…]located in a State that permits such gaming for any purpose by any person, organization, or entity, and conducted in conformance with a Tribal-State compact entered into by the Indian tribe and the State under paragraph (3) that is in effect.”

Since House Bill 347, which legalized online sports betting in North Carolina, took effect on Jan. 8, 2024, the EBCI and Caesars could technically have begun offering mobile betting on tribal lands and in the two Harrah’s casinos at that point.

However, as the NC Lottery Commission, regulator of the industry, had not yet handed out online operator licenses by then, Caesars and the EBCI had to wait.

Thus, as the NCLC announced the eight online sports betting operator licenses on March 1, including one for the EBCI, Caesars was free to go live with online sports betting on tribal lands at that moment.

Can Caesars make good on its ten-day advantage?

The alleged first online bet placed in North Carolina (a winner!) was a $50 wager on South Alabama (-7.5) against LA-Monroe.

This bet, placed on March 1, came ten days before the rest of the operators in North Carolina could take their first bets.

Online sports betting in the Tar Heel State goes live at 12 p.m. on March 11, and seven more operators will launch when that time comes.

FanDuel Sportsbook NC

DraftKings Sportsbook NC

BetMGM Sportsbook NC

Bet365 Sportsbook NC

ESPN Bet Sportsbook NC

Fanatics Sportsbook NC

Underdog Sportsbook NC

The launch comes one day before the popular ACC men’s basketball tournament and eight days before the tip-off of the men’s March Madness tournament. Caesars has stated that it will not launch a high-powered spending campaign on NC sportsbook promos but will rely on new app upgrades and its strong pre-existing presence in the state.

How will the ten-day head start influence the revenue totals for Caesars Sportsbook in this high-octane first month of NC online sports betting?

We’ll have to wait and see.

About the Author

Tyler Andrews

Tyler is the Managing Editor for NCSharp.com, covering sports, sports law, and gambling for the Tar Heel State. He has also covered similar topics for PlayTexas, PlayGeorgia, PlayCA, PlayFlorida, PlayOhio, and PlayMA. Tyler’s current focus is North Carolina’s pathway to gaming legalization.