Early Impressions Trying Out All Eight Betting Apps In North Carolina

North Carolina is entering its second full week of legal online sports betting, and there are lots of eager NC bettors already placing their March Madness bets.

As an NC native and big basketball fan, I was excited to add a few wagers on ACC Tournament and March Madness games.

Having accounts at all eight NC sports betting apps, I thought I might share a few thoughts about them. These early observations should give you a good idea of what you might find, depending on which apps you try for yourself.

Some early hiccups on sign-up

I am a new user at most of the NC sportsbooks and so went through the sign-up process. I already had FanDuel and DraftKings sportsbook accounts and wagered on them in other states. As I came to discover, a BetMGM poker account I created years ago in another state got linked to my new BetMGM Sportsbook NC account. Although I never deposited into and played on the other site, I was ineligible for welcome offers here in NC.

ESPN Bet wouldn’t allow me to create a new account on my laptop, insisting I do so via the app. ESPN Bet also required that I send a photo of my driver’s license and take a selfie, as did Underdog Sports. All of this went smoothly, and I don’t mind the extra security, but it did add a little extra time and effort.

Two NC online sportsbooks, Fanatics and Underdog Sports, are mobile-only sites. I like the web-based clients for the other sites, although I have occasionally run into some difficulty with the geolocation technology when using my laptop. A couple of the sites required me to install a plug-in to get located properly. Of these, I’m still having difficulty getting ESPN Bet to work.

Since using the apps on my iPhone has been much easier and smoother, I’ve primarily used them. I do like visiting the websites, though, as it’s easier to sort through different games and wagers there than on the smaller screen.

User experience a major differentiator so far

FanDuel Sportsbook NC and DraftKings Sportsbook NC were the most downloaded apps in NC during the first week. Those who downloaded those two apps have likely found them to be especially easy to navigate and use, setting a fairly high standard of usability for the other apps to try to match.

I also very much like the Bet365 NC sportsbook design and interface, and I appreciate the way Bet365 displays your cash and bonuses, including yet-to-be-activated bonuses (listed under “My Offers”). I like not being confused about promos and bonuses, and Bet365 does a great job of clarifying everything.

With both BetMGM and ESPN Bet, I have occasionally gotten stuck on certain pages and been unable to go back, forcing me to close and reopen the app. Meanwhile, both the Caesars and Fanatics apps have also given me slight trouble once or twice when trying to get certain bets or games to appear. I do have an older model iPhone, though, which might be a factor affecting the apps’ functionality for me.

The Underdog Sportsbook app functions fine too, although there is less to see there than on the other apps (see “Available Sports Betting Options” below).

I have found the cashier pages at all eight NC sportsbooks relatively clear and easy to understand and use. When it comes to withdrawing funds later, DraftKings has the most available withdrawal methods, while Underdog Sports has only ACH or check. Most sites have multiple ways to get your money out.

Early impressions of bonuses and promos

As expected, the first two weeks with legal online sports betting come with an influx of promotional offers. My experience so far with NC sportsbook promos has been positive, despite not being eligible for all of the top welcome bonuses.

Since I already had a FanDuel account and had wagered in other states, I couldn’t receive the welcome offer. But I did take advantage of earning several $25 bonus bets in FanDuel’s “Carolina Daily Pick” contest on the fantasy site during the days leading up to the launch. I also was able to win some easy cash early on by betting multiple “profit boosts,” whereby FanDuel let you bet up to $50 at +100 that–for example–at least one point would be scored in a Charlotte Hornets game.

I didn’t qualify for the DraftKings welcome offer either, having used the account in other states before. There too, though, DraftKings had some similar no-brainer-type offers early on, and I took advantage of them.

Looking at the other sites, Bet365’s welcome offer was very nice. They gave me $100 in bonus bets for signing up pre-launch, then I opted for the “Bet $5, Get $200 in Bonus Bets” afterward, not choosing the “First Bet Safety Net.” I’ve also already taken advantage of Bet365’s “Bet Boosts” and “Early Payout” promos.

Caesars Sportsbook NC is another I found to be worth checking out for promos. The bet $10, get $250 welcome offer is nice and comes in the form of five $50 bonus bets. Caesars is also coming out strong with same-game parlay (SGP) boosts. Check out their 100% SGP boost for specific MLB and NCAA basketball games.

Underdog Sportsbook NC offers only a “First Bet Mulligan” to new sign-ups. This offer refunds you up to $1,000 in bonus funds if you lose your first wager. I’m not too interested in that offer, and so I’ve yet to deposit there.

I’ve also held off on depositing over at BetMGM. As mentioned above, I had an account at a BetMGM poker site in another state but never deposited or wagered anything. Even so, that disqualified me from any welcome offer, and so that’s kept me off BetMGM for now.

Pitfalls to avoid and other general notes of caution

Underdog Sports uses “multiplier odds” as a default (e.g., the favorite might be 1.14x and the underdog 6.52x). Some may like that, but you can change them to American odds in the settings.

You will start to get emails from every NC sportsbook you register with, often more than once per day. You can adjust this in your email preferences in the apps. However, you may want to read a few messages before you do. Those emails often contain new offers and promos.

Don’t let your bonus bets expire! With all the different sites and offers, I did manage to let one of my $25 bonus bets expire. Whenever you receive bonus bets, be certain to check the expiration dates and plan your wagering accordingly.

Final notes on what to look for at NC sportsbook apps

Here are a few more early notes regarding the NC betting sites:

The “no-brainer” odds boosts bets keep coming over on DraftKings. This week, I opted in for yet another one. It gave me a +100 bet on Duke or UNC to score at least one point in their first-round NCAA tourney game (max. $25 to win $50).

Speaking of, Fanatics had a fun offer to bet on either Duke or UNC to win the ACC tourney at +10000. You could bet a maximum of only $1, but a winner would have paid $100. Of course, NC State spoiled that by beating the Blue Devils and the Heels on their way to the title.

Right now, ESPN Bet is giving me 5% cash back on every wager I make. Apparently they’ll continue to do so until I earn $20. (I still need to sort through the T&Cs regarding this promo.)

All eight betting apps offer similar responsible gambling tools to help customers avoid bad habits and problematic gambling. It is nice to see all the sites offer responsible gambling information and options. They all feature deposit limits, wager limits and time limits, timeouts, “reality checks” and self-exclusion.

About the Author

Martin Harris

Martin Harris is a writer and teacher who has reported on poker, online gambling, and sports betting since the mid-2000s. Once a full-time academic (Ph.D., English), he currently teaches part-time in the American Studies program at UNC Charlotte. His book “Poker & Pop Culture” was published by D&B Books in 2019.