What To Know About Tribal Geofencing Restrictions in North Carolina

Bettors on NC tribal lands will be restricted to using only the tribal sportsbook affiliated with their tribe.

In the case of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) in the western part of the state, that is Caesars Sportsbook. The Catawba Nation, which holds land in trust in the area around Kings Mountain, has not yet announced its sports betting partner.

Under state law, “An interactive sports wagering operator licensed under G.S. 18C-904 shall not, by virtue of such licensure, be authorized to accept any sports wager if the registered player placing the sports wager is physically present on Indian lands when the sports wager is initiated and received.”

What this means for the broader North Carolina online sports betting market is that no commercial online sportsbook can accept bets from bettors on tribal lands, a restriction that will entail “geofencing approved by the Commission to ensure compliance with this Article.”

Caesars Sportsbook’s exclusive NC tribal access

The deal announced yesterday between Caesars Entertainment Inc. and the Cherokee Tribe to allow Caesars Sportsbook to enter the NC online sports betting market builds on a more than two-decade partnership.

Since 1997, when the EBCI and Harrah’s opened the Caesars-operated Harrah’s Cherokee Hotel and Casino, the tribe and Caesars have worked together to offer legal gaming on NC tribal lands.

This new agreement, per Caesars’ press release, means “Caesars Sportsbook will have exclusive rights to mobile sports wagering at the two casinos and on Eastern Band of Cherokee tribal lands in western North Carolina.”

This includes all land west of Haywood and Transylvania counties, comprising Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties.

When the Catawba Nation announces its sports betting partner, that tribal land will also be the exclusive territory of the partnering sportsbook.

This does not mean that these tribal online sportsbooks can only take bets from bettors on tribal lands. However, it does mean that bettors on tribal lands can only place bets with their tribe’s partnered sportsbook.

NC Commercial sportsbooks geo-restricted from tribal lands

Another way of putting it: commercial online sportsbooks in North Carolina cannot do business on North Carolina tribal lands. Geofencing will ensure that only the tribe’s partnering sportsbook can take bets from bettors on tribal lands.

Since this is a geo-restriction, bettors will be fenced out of certain sportsbooks because of where they place the bet. So, tribal bettors will need to travel off tribal lands to access commercial online sportsbooks in the state.

The current list of commercial sportsbooks pursuing online sports betting licenses in the state includes:



Fanatics Sportsbook.

FanDuel Sportsbook.

DraftKings Sportsbook.

BetMGM Sportsbook.

Underdog Sports.

How tribal bettors can take advantage of NC sports betting promos

In the early days of launch, all NC sportsbooks will offer bettors a variety of promo offers.

Tribal bettors interested in NC sportsbook promos will need to travel off tribal lands to place bets with the state’s commercial sportsbooks.

Geolocation services like GeoComply do not anticipate much interference in the areas near tribal borders. However, NC tribal bettors should remember that border areas can sometimes create interference when accessing geofenced applications.

NCSharp has identified some areas of potential interference near Cherokee tribal borders that bettors should keep in mind.

The broad view of NC sportsbook territories

For people trying to keep track of where North Carolina’s sportsbooks will operate, here’s the broad view of North Carolina’s online sportsbooks.

For commercial sportsbooks partnering with one of the state’s 11 sports betting entities, their territory excludes Cherokee and Catawba land.

Caesars Sportsbook will have exclusive access to Cherokee tribal lands. It will also have the freedom to offer its online sportsbook throughout the state. The only restricted region for Caesars would be Catawba Nation tribal lands in the area around Kings Mountain.

Likewise, whichever sportsbook partners with the Catawba Nation will have exclusive access to Catawba land in North Carolina. They may also operate throughout the state, with the exception of Cherokee tribal land.

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.