The Charlotte Hornets entered into a historic agreement with Bet365, but fans shouldn’t expect a brick-and-mortar sportsbook inside the Spectrum Center any time soon.
In an interview with the Charlotte Business Journal, Hortnets Chief Operating Officer Jacob Gallagher said that at this time, a retail sportsbook isn’t on the top of the priority list.
“When we look at a retail sportsbook and we talk toother teams and we talk to Bet365, right now, with this being a mobile sports-betting license where people can bet on their phone, the retail sportsbook wasn’t a priority for us.”
Online sports betting in North Carolina isn’t live yet. The state lottery is working on drafting rules and indicated on Wednesday that a launch before the 2024 Super Bowl would not happen.
Here’s a closer look at the decision to not include a brick-and-mortar Bet365 sportsbook inside Spectrum Center.
What to know about the Hornets’ deal with Bet365
The Hornets entered into this historic agreement with Bet365 on Nov. 17. As part of the deal, Bet365 will become the “exclusive long-term” betting partner of the team, according to a release.
Additionally, Bet365 will see “significant branding and signage” inside Spectrum Center, on the Hornets’ website, their social media platforms and their broadcasts.
The Hornets are the first North Carolina professional sports franchise to partner with a gambling company. Bet365 likely won’t be the lone sportsbook to enter a partnership of this nature with another North Carolina-based team, as the state’s new sports betting law requires gambling companies to sign an agreement with one of the state’s 11 professional teams, events or venues to be eligible for an operator’s license.
This is Bet365’s second partnership with an NBA franchise. The sports betting company holds an agreement with the San Antonio Spurs, too.
Why a Bet365 retail sportsbook ‘wasn’t a priority’
In his interview with the CBJ, Gallagher alluded to user experience as a big reason behind the mobile-only approach.
“For either of us, we really want to make sure that our fans have the best user experience in their hand, and they can place bets that way.”
And it makes sense. Mobile sports wagering popularity has skyrocketed across the country. Sports betting is legal in 27 U.S. jurisdictions, and mobile wagering accounts for 90% of the nationwide handle.
The convenience factor of mobile sports betting reigns supreme. And in the Spectrum Center fans won’t need to get up from their seats to place a bet. All they will need to do is log into their Bet365 sportsbook app. They can wager on the Hornets game right in front of them without missing a beat.
Bet365 announcement comes after approval for Spectrum Center funding
In September, the Local Government Commission approved $110 million in funding for the Spectrum Center. It was the first phase of $215 million in taxpayer funds to help give a lift to the arena.
$173 million of the total will go toward “contractually obligated improvements,” according to the CBJ. That includes replacements or improvements on things such as heating, cooling, roofing and concession-area upgrades.
When the Hornets were sold over the summer, the team signed a 15-year extension on its lease at the Spectrum Center. The earliest the team could change venues would be in 2045, so it makes sense that Charlotte wanted to commit to these upgrades and improve the overall experience.
Could there eventually be a retail sportsbook at Spectrum Center?
Possibly. There’s definitely been interest around it in previous years.
In the summer of 2022, Hornets President Fred Whitfield told the CBJ that a brick-and-mortar sportsbook was something he eyed.
“We really fought hard to have that included — not just by us, but the other sports venues, to be able to have a sportsbook either in our building or in very close proximity.”
But even though there are no plans for any sort of a sports betting lounge inside the Spectrum Center, Gallagher didn’t close the door on the concept during his interview with the CBJ.
“As we continue to grow the partnership and have conversations, this might change.”
Which NBA arenas offer retail sportsbooks?
Currently, four NBA teams play in arenas that offer retail sportsbooks.
But for what it’s worth, none of those arenas partnered with Bet365 for a retail sportsbook.
Here’s a list, which includes the arena, team name and sportsbook partnership.
- Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse (Cleveland Cavaliers, Caesars)
- United Center (Chicago Bulls, FanDuel)
- Footprint Center (Phoenix Suns, FanDuel)
- Capital One Arena (Washington Wizards, Caesars)
The cost varies, depending on the size of the sportsbook and all the desired amenities. For instance, construction for the United Center’s FanDuel sportsbook came out to about $6.3 million.
One professional sports team with a similar situation as the Hornets is the Chicago Cubs. Wrigley Field is in a comparable location and signed a deal with DraftKings in 2019 to be the first MLB team with a sportsbook. The sportsbook is in a separate building directly next to Wrigley Field and cost $25 million.
Should the Hornets opt for a retail sportsbook inside the Spectrum Center, there should be plenty of funds with the recent allocations.
Image Credit: Chuck Burton / AP Images