FanDuel and NASCAR signed a partnership in August, and it could signal a possible written designation agreement between the two, allowing FanDuel to apply for an online operator license in North Carolina.
This year’s state budget bill changed the pathway to sports betting licensure established in House Bill 347, North Carolina’s online sports betting law. Under the new regulations, prospective operators must receive a “written designation agreement” from one of the state’s professional sports teams or venues, including regular PGA Tour and NASCAR circuit stops, before applying for a sports betting license.
As for how that will affect the North Carolina online sports betting economy, one of the nation’s top online sportsbooks looks primed to take pole position: FanDuel.
Neither FanDuel nor NASCAR has announced an official agreement for online sports betting in North Carolina. Given its stature, FanDuel NC will be a high-demand partner and will likely have many suitors.
Nonetheless, the partnership gives FanDuel a leg up on securing one of North Carolina’s soon-to-be coveted designation agreements, either with NASCAR itself or one of the state’s two NASCAR tracks.
Partnership seeks “to create and promote engaging betting experiences”
FanDuel North Carolina will be a hot ticket when it goes live, regardless of its partner in the market. Let’s read a little between the lines, though, as to how the FanDuel-NASCAR union will take shape.
August’s press release set the boundaries:
– FanDuel gains the right to use certain NASCAR marks.
– FanDuel will collaborate with NASCAR “to create and promote engaging betting experiences, including odds integration into NASCAR’s fantasy platform.”
– FanDuel hired NASCAR analyst and racing legend Clint Bowyer as a brand ambassador to engage fans and promote the partnership.
– NASCAR will integrate FanDuel betting odds into its fantasy game on NASCAR.com.
NASCAR Managing Director of Sports Betting, Joe Solosky, said the company couldn’t wait to work with FanDuel to expand its offerings and deliver its fans an improved experience.
Similarly, FanDuel Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, Clifton Ma, spoke of NASCAR’s potential to grow and said it looked forward to continuing to grow its presence in the gaming space.
The two companies align, which paves the way for a partnership for online sports betting in North Carolina. However, FanDuel could also choose a separate sports betting partner while focusing on NASCAR only nationally.
The written designation agreement requirement
HB 347 originally allowed for up to 12 commercial sports betting licenses. The recent budget bill altered that designation, requiring sportsbooks to find professional sports partners instead and receive a written designation agreement before becoming eligible for licensure. These partners include:
– A professional sports team in North Carolina.
– A professional golf course with an annual tournament.
– A professional auto racetrack with an annual tournament.
– The PGA.
In total, 11 entities can provide written designation agreements. This number is one fewer than HB 347 proposed, but it transfers the power from sportsbook operators to sports teams. A new sports franchise, golf tournament or NASCAR race in North Carolina could open the door for additional licenses.
Sportsbooks now become incentivized to forge new partnerships in NC. A written designation agreement will enable them to accept North Carolina online sports betting wagers and give them exclusive rights to build an onsite retail sportsbook.
The state’s three major sports franchises – the Carolina Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes and Charlotte Hornets – become the most attractive designations for the retail aspect and increased visibility to their online sportsbooks. None have active sports betting partnerships.
Regardless, all 11 entities get the first say in deciding which online sportsbooks go live in North Carolina. And operators are no doubt standing by.
Why is NASCAR the right choice for FanDuel NC?
We know that online sports betting in North Carolina will launch in 2024, but many details remain unclear. The launch window runs from Jan. 8 to June 14, 2024, but the NC Lottery Commission has not set a targeted launch date nor begun taking applications.
NASCAR has choices beyond FanDuel for its designation agreement, including additional partnerships with Barstool Sportsbook (soon to rebrand to ESPN Bet) and BetMGM. However, FanDuel is one of the largest sportsbooks in the nation and should be its most lucrative option.
The brand recognition and immediate authority accompanying FanDuel North Carolina will put it on top from day one. Sports teams partnering with smaller sportsbooks won’t give them such a boost that they overtake a NASCAR-licensed FanDuel Sportsbook.
For FanDuel, the greatest opportunity comes from NASCAR’s untapped potential. Currently, only one retail sportsbook operates at or near a NASCAR track, the Barstool Sportsbook at Hollywood Casino across from the Kansas Speedway.
It’s a major reason why the partnership came to fruition in the first place. FanDuel should look to make the most out of that in every way possible.
NASCAR betting handle grew by more than 50% year-over-year in 2022, and action on FanDuel increased by 70%. That was before the two began doing business together, too.
As many markets reach sports betting maturity nationwide, operators must look for new niches and edges to gain.
DraftKings has done this with the PGA Tour and operates in Arizona as the Tour’s licensee, complete with a retail sportsbook at TPC Scottsdale. NASCAR provides the same opportunity for FanDuel NC, especially in an untapped North Carolina market.
Image Credit: Wayne Parry / AP Images